Control of persistent hemiballismus by chronic thalamic stimulation

Report of two cases

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✓ Persistent hemiballismus after stroke is often difficult to treat. The ballistic movement is sometimes so violent that progressive exhaustion results. The authors report two such cases, which were successfully treated by chronic thalamic stimulation. The lesions responsible for the ballistic movement in these patients were located near the subthalamic nucleus and in the putamen, respectively. The thalamic nucleus ventrolateralis and nucleus ventralis intermedius were stimulated with 0.2 to 0.3 msec pulses at 50 to 150 Hz and 4 to 7 V continuously during the day. Several weeks later, complete control of the hemiballismus was achieved during stimulation. The improvement was clearly not attributable to spontaneous recovery, because ballistic movement reappeared after termination of the stimulation. The stimulation has remained effective for more than 16 months in both cases without any serious complications. Chronic thalamic stimulation appears to be useful for controlling persistent hemiballismus, as it is for other involuntary movement disorders.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Takashi Tsubokawa, M.D., D.Sc., Department of Neurological Surgery, Nihon University School of Medicine, 30 Oyaguchi-kamimachi, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173, Japan.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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