A computed tomography study investigating the effects of botulinum toxin injections prior to complex abdominal wall reconstruction

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Objective: To explore how intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin A (BTA) affects the lateral abdominal wall (LAW) musculature, abdominal- and hernia dimensions, and muscle structure on computed tomography (CT) in patients scheduled for complex abdominal wall reconstruction (CAWR). Methods: Retrospective analysis of prospectively registered patients who received bilateral intramuscular BTA injections into all three muscles of the LAW. Only patients for which a CT was available before and 3–6 weeks after BTA treatment prior to surgery were analyzed. Results: Fifty-two patients were analyzed. Median hernia width in all patients decreased with 0.4 cm (IQR − 2.1;0.6) (p = 0.023). Median intra-abdominal transverse diameter increased with 0.9 cm (IQR − 0.2;3.3) (p = 0.001) and the intra-abdominal anterior–posterior diameter decreased with 0.5 cm (IQR − 1.3;0.5) (p = 0.017), making the abdomen more oval. Median LAW muscle length increased with 0.9 cm (IQR 0.0;2.4) per side (p < 0.001), muscle thickness decreased with 0.5 cm (IQR − 0.8;− 0.2) (− 25.0%) per side (p < 0.001), and muscle mass decreased with 3.9 cm2 (IQR − 6.4;-1.5) (− 15.8%) per side (p < 0.001). Median HU of the psoas muscles (density) increased with 4.8 HU (IQR 0.4;9.7) (10.3%) per side (p < 0.001). Effects of BTA were more pronounced in patients with a loss of domain (LoD) ≥ 20%. Conclusions: The main effect of BTA injections is elongation and thinning of the LAW muscles, more than a decrease in hernia width. Concomitantly, the abdomen becomes more oval. An increase of psoas muscles density is seen, associated with offloading of the LAW muscles. Patients with large LoD have a proportionally higher effect of BTA.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


  • Botulinum toxin A
  • CAWR
  • CT scan

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