Deep Brain Stimulation

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David A. Sun, Hong Yu, John Spooner, Armanda D. Tatsas, Thomas Davis, Ty W. Abel, Chris Kao and Peter E. Konrad

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a clinically effective neurosurgical treatment for Parkinson disease. Tissue reaction to chronic DBS therapy and the definitive location of active stimulation contacts are best studied on a postmortem basis in patients who have undergone DBS. The authors report the postmortem analysis of STN DBS following 5 years and 11 months of effective chronic stimulation including the histologically verified location of the active contacts associated with bilateral implants. They also describe tissue response to intraoperative test passes with recording microelectrodes and stimulating semimacroelectrodes. The results indicated that 1) the neural tissue surrounding active and nonactive contacts responds similarly, with a thin glial capsule and foreign-body giant cell reaction surrounding the leads as well as piloid gliosis, hemosiderin-laden macrophages, scattered lymphocytes, and Rosenthal fibers; 2) there was evidence of separate tracts in the adjacent tissue for intraoperative microelectrode and semimacroelectrode passes together with reactive gliosis, microcystic degeneration, and scattered hemosiderin deposition; and 3) the active contacts used for ~ 6 years of effective bilateral DBS therapy lie in the zona incerta, just dorsal to the rostral STN. To the authors' knowledge, the period of STN DBS therapy herein described for Parkinson disease and subjected to postmortem analysis is the longest to date.

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John Spooner, Hong Yu, Chris Kao, Karl Sillay and Peter Konrad

✓The authors present a case in which high-frequency electrical stimulation of the cingulum using standard deep brain stimulation (DBS) technology resulted in pain relief similar to that achieved with cingulotomy and superior to that achieved with periventricular gray matter (PVG) stimulation.

This patient had a complete spinal cord injury at the C-4 level and suffered from medically refractory neuropathic pain. He underwent placement of bilateral cingulum and unilateral PVG DBS electrodes and a 1-week blinded stimulation trial prior to permanent implantation of a pulse generator. During the stimulation trial, the patient's pain level was assessed using a visual analog scale, and pain medication usage was recorded. During this period the patient was blinded to stimulation parameters. Stimulation of the cingulum provided better pain control than PVG stimulation or medication alone.

The authors believe that cingulum stimulation can benefit patients with severe neuropathic pain that is refractory to other treatments. Advantages over cingulotomy include reversibility and the ability to adjust stimulation parameters for optimum efficacy.