Can Ultrasounds Save Money?

In a recent contribution to Muscle & Nerve, Dr. Bodor presented an important correlation between the use of ultrasound guidance for botulinum toxin injections and the ability to decrease the amount of toxin and number of injections needed per patient. Further study could show potential savings of $400 million annually.

Read his comments below:

While many readers will associate botulinum toxin (Botox) injections with its cosmetic application to smooth out wrinkles in the face, most are not aware that the original development for the drug was to correct spastic muscle disorders, specifically for strabismus, or deviation of the eye, caused by an imbalance in pull in the muscles.

Today, botulinum toxin is also used to reduce spasticity and correct muscle imbalance in a variety of neurological disorders, from Parkinson’s disease and post-stroke hemiplegia to cervical (torticollis) and writer’s or musician’s cramp (focal dystonias).

Recognizing that toxin works at the neuromuscular junction, where nerve meets muscle, several parts of the affected muscle need to be injected to optimize its effect. Dr. Bodor recently published a paper in Muscle & Nerve explaining this, (see full article).

At the cost of $400-800 on average for a single injection of Botox, the need for multiple delivery injections supports what has become a multi-billion dollar industry, expected to exceed $5.6 billion by 2020.

Since 1995, Dr. Bodor has been performing botulinum injections and, using his carefully developed ultrasound-guidance techniques believes he can minimize the use for additional injections. According to Bodor, “Every muscle fiber has a neuromuscular junction, but the fibers do not run up and down the entire length of the muscle in each muscle. This has to be taken into consideration for each patient and each muscle. Ultrasound can facilitate this and has the potential to decrease the necessary amount of toxin required to effectively treat the affected area.

Consider for a moment: Reducing the overall toxin dose for each patient by only 20% would translate into a savings of $400 million. Our healthcare system could benefit greatly from cost savings measures like this provided by new techniques and the application of existing technologies in new ways.

Thanks to the research of Dr. Bodor, the Napa Medical Research Foundation is working towards our goal of providing less costly, less invasive treatments to our local population, and of sharing these treatments with the broad medical community.

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All the research conducted through the Napa Medical Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is fully funded through generous donations received from individuals and family foundations.

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