The object of this study was to assess the results of unilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) for management of advanced Parkinson disease (PD).
A clinical series of 24 patients (mean age 71 years, range 56–80 years) with medically intractable PD, who were undergoing unilateral magnetic resonance imaging–targeted, electrophysiologically guided STN DBS, completed a battery of qualitative and quantitative outcome measures preoperatively (baseline) and postoperatively, using a modified Core Assessment Program for Intracerebral Transplantations protocol.
The mean follow-up period was 9 months. Statistically significant improvement was observed in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part II score (18%), the total UPDRS PART III score (31%), the contralateral UPDRS Part III score (63%), and scores for axial motor features (19%), contralateral tremor (88%), rigidity (60%), bradykinesia (54%), and dyskinesia (69%), as well as the Parkinson's Disease Quality of Life questionnaire score (15%) in the on-stimulation state compared with baseline. Ipsilateral symptoms improved by approximately 15% or less. Performance on the Purdue pegboard test improved in the contralateral hand in the on-stimulation state compared with the off-stimulation state (38%, p < 0.05). The daily levodopa-equivalent dose was reduced by 21% (p = 0.018). Neuropsychological tests revealed an improvement in mental flexibility and a trend toward reduced letter fluency. There were no permanent surgical complications. Of the 16 participants with symmetrical disease, five required implantation of the DBS unit on the second side.
Unilateral STN DBS is an effective and safe treatment for selected patients with advanced PD. Unilateral STN DBS provides improvement of contralateral motor symptoms of PD as well as quality of life, reduces requirements for medication, and possibly enhances mental flexibility. This method of surgical treatment may be associated with a reduced risk and may provide an alternative to bilateral STN DBS for PD, especially in older patients or patients with asymmetry of parkinsonism.