Our objective was to study the corticobulbar projections to neck muscles in cervical dystonia.
We compared both the motor evoked potentials and the electromyographic silent period after transcranial magnetic stimulation from sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles in a group of 13 patients with spasmodic torticollis with those of 20 healthy volunteers.
With the target muscle at rest, no changes of motor thresh-old, motor evoked potentials latency, and amplitude were observed in dystonic patients. With facilitation, the mean amplitude of the motor evoked potentials was increased in patients compared with controls, the significant difference being for the trapezius muscle, whereas the latency did not differ between groups. The cortical silent period was significantly shorter in dystonic patients than in healthy subjects in both muscles. The duration of the cortical silent period recorded from the sternocleidomastoid muscle showed a positive correlation with the degree of neurologic disability assessed by Tsui's scale. No abnormalities of both nerve conduction velocity and peripheral silent period by stimulation of accessory nerve were found.
These results indicate an impairment of the mechanisms of inhibitory motor control in patients with spasmodic torticollis, which could be the result of a decrease of the basal ganglia inhibitory output over the motor cortex.
From the Movement Disorders Unit (SA, LM, MAV, GC, GG), Department of Neurosciences, Scientific Institute Ospedale San Raffaele, Milano; the Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri Clinica del Lavoro e della Riabilitazione (MP, JN), IRCCS, Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Center of Castel Goffredo, Mantova; and the Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri Clinica del Lavoro e della Riabilitazione (FP, CM), IRCCS, Medical Rehabilitation Center of Veruno, Novara, Italy.
Reprints: All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Giuseppe Galardi, MD, Department of Neurophysiology, Scientific Institute Ospedale San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 60, 20132, Milano, Italy.