John N. Caviness, Daniel D. Truong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Myoclonus can be classified as physiologic, essential, epileptic, and symptomatic. Animal models of myoclonus include DDT and posthypoxic myoclonus in the rat. 5-Hydrotryptophan, clonazepam, and valproic acid suppress myoclonus induced by posthypoxia.The diagnostic evaluation of myoclonus is complex and involves an extensive work-up including basic electrolytes, glucose, renal and hepatic function tests, paraneoplastic antibodies, drug and toxicology screens, thyroid antibody and function studies, neurophysiology testing, imaging, and tests for malabsorption disorders, assays for enzyme deficiencys, tissue biopsy, copper studies, alpha-fetoprotein, cytogenetic analysis, radiosensitivity DNA synthesis, genetic testing for inherited disorders, and mitochondrial function studies.Treatment of myoclonus is targeted to the underlying disorder. If myoclonus physiology cannot be demonstrated, treatment should be aimed at the common pattern of symptoms. If the diagnosis is not known, treatment could be directed empirically at cortical myoclonus as the most common physiology. In cortical myoclonus, the most effective drugs are sodium valproic acid, clonazepam, levetiracetam, and piracetam. For cortical-subcortical myoclonus, valproic acid is the drug of choice. Here, lamotrigine can be used either alone or in combination with valproic acid. Ethosuximide, levetiracetam, or zonisamide can also be used as adjunct therapy with valproic acid. A ketogenic diet can be considered if everything else fails. Subcortical-nonsegmental myoclonus may respond to clonazepam and deep-brain stimulation. Rituximab, adrenocorticotropic hormone, high-dose dexamethasone pulse, or plasmapheresis have been reported to improve opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome. Reticular reflex myoclonus can be treated with clonazepam, diazepam and 5-hydrotryptophan. For palatal myoclonus, a variety of drugs have been used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-420
Number of pages22
JournalHandbook of clinical neurology
StatePublished - Apr 20 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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