Raynaud phenomenon (RP) is a transient digital ischemia that occurs after exposure to cold temperature or emotional distress. It presents with a triphasic course: the initial white phase is followed by cyanotic discoloration and, subsequently, erythema. The attacks may be associated with pain, paresthesia, and complicate with nonhealing ulceration often leading to amputation. To date, there are no clear-cut therapeutic guidelines and many medications are used off-label. Encouraging results were reported with the use of botulinum neurotoxin-A (BoNT-A). However, there is still ongoing debate regarding indications, contraindications, best injection technique, and mechanism of action. The aim of this study was to address these issues by providing an up-to-date and detailed overview of the use of BoNT-A in RP.
A PubMed database search was conducted. The available studies and techniques were evaluated and compared.
The search yielded a total of 29 studies. Ten papers, published between 2004 and 2014, were considered relevant. A total of 128 patients underwent BoNT-A injections. Seventy-five percent to 100 % of the patients reported pain reduction after treatment. Healing of ulcers was reported in 75% to 100% of the affected patients. The most common complication was temporary hand weakness, with an average incidence of 14.1%. Injections targeting the neurovascular bundle at or slightly proximal to the A1 pulley were the most commonly performed.
Botulinum neurotoxin-A injection proved to be a valid approach in both primary and secondary RP. The available evidence shows the achievement of both symptomatic and functional improvements in this debilitating condition. However, the patient should be adequately informed about the risk of transient hand weakness.