Subthalamic nucleus stimulation in patients with a prior pallidotomy

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Object. A substantial number of patients with Parkinson disease (PD) who have undergone unilateral stereotactic pallidotomy ultimately develop symptom progression, becoming potential candidates for further surgical treatment. Bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a subset of patients with refractory PD. Microelectrode recording is performed to help localize the STN and guide final placement of the electrode. Potential alterations in physiological features of the STN after pallidotomy may complicate localization of this structure in this group of patients.

Methods. Bilateral STN DBS surgery guided by microelectrode recording was performed in six patients who had undergone previous unilateral pallidotomies. Physiologically obtained parameters of the STN, including trajectory length, mean firing rate, cell number, and cell density were calculated. These data were compared with those from the side without prior pallidotomy within each patient, as well as with those from our series of 49 subthalamic nuclei explored in 26 patients who had not undergone prior pallidotomy but who underwent bilateral STN stimulator placement.

In all patients, analysis of STN cellular activity on the side ipsilateral to the pallidotomy demonstrated a lower mean firing frequency than on the contralateral, intact side. The physiological features on the intact side were not significantly different from those found in our series of patients who had not undergone prior pallidotomy.

Conclusions. Physicians who perform STN surgery in patients with prior pallidotomy should be aware of the electrophysiological differences between the STN that had undergone pallidotomy and the one that had not, to avoid prolonging recording time to search for the typical STN. The implications of these findings for the current models of information processing in the basal ganglia are discussed.

Article Information

Address for Dr. Rezai: Department of Neurosurgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio.Address reprint requests to: Alon Y. Mogilner, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurosurgery, New York Medical College, Munger Pavilion, Valhalla, New York 10595. email: alon_mogilner@nymc.edu.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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Figures

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    Tracings showing firing characteristics of the STN in one of the patients with PD. The STN on the intact side (upper) demonstrates a higher firing frequency than the STN on the same side as the pallidotomy (lower).

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