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Ali R. Rezai, Andres M. Lozano, Adrian P. Crawley, Michael L. G. Joy, Karen D. Davis, Chun L. Kwan, Jonathan O. Dostrovsky, Ronald R. Tasker and David J. Mikulis

The utility of functional magnetic resonance (fMR) imaging in patients with implanted thalamic electrodes has not yet been determined. The aim of this study was to establish the safety of performing fMR imaging in patients with thalamic deep brain stimulators and to determine the value of fMR imaging in detecting cortical and subcortical activity during stimulation.

Functional MR imaging was performed in three patients suffering from chronic pain and two patients with essential tremor. Two of the three patients with pain had undergone electrode implantation in the thalamic sensory ventralis caudalis (Vc) nucleus and the other had undergone electrode implantation in both the Vc and the periventricular gray (PVG) matter. Patients with tremor underwent electrode implantation in the ventralis intermedius (Vim) nucleus. Functional MR imaging was performed during stimulation by using a pulse generator connected to a transcutaneous extension lead. Clinically, Vc stimulation evoked paresthesias in the contralateral body, PVG stimulation evoked a sensation of diffuse internal body warmth, and Vim stimulation caused tremor arrest.

Functional images were acquired using a 1.5-tesla MR imaging system. The Vc stimulation at intensities provoking paresthesias resulted in activation of the primary somatosensory cortex (SI). Stimulation at subthreshold intensities failed to activate the SI. Additional stimulation-coupled activation was observed in the thalamus, the secondary somatosensory cortex (SII), and the insula. In contrast, stimulation of the PVG electrode did not evoke paresthesias or activate the SI, but resulted in medial thalamic and cingulate cortex activation. Stimulation in the Vim resulted in thalamic, basal ganglia, and SI activation.

An evaluation of the safety of the procedure indicated that significant current could be induced within the electrode if a faulty connecting cable (defective insulation) came in contact with the patient. Simple precautions, such as inspection of wires for fraying and prevention of their contact with the patient, enabled the procedure to be conducted safely. Clinical safety was further corroborated by performing 86 MR studies in patients in whom electrodes had been implanted with no adverse clinical effects.

This is the first report of the use of fMR imaging during stimulation with implanted thalamic electrodes. The authors' findings demonstrate that fMR imaging can safely detect the activation of cortical and subcortical neuronal pathways during stimulation and that stimulation does not interfere with imaging. This approach offers great potential for understanding the mechanisms of action of deep brain stimulation and those underlying pain and tremor generation.

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Francesco Sammartino, Vibhor Krishna, Tejas Sankar, Jason Fisico, Suneil K. Kalia, Mojgan Hodaie, Walter Kucharczyk, David J. Mikulis, Adrian Crawley and Andres M. Lozano

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety of 3-T MRI in patients with implanted deep brain stimulation (DBS) systems.

METHODS

This study was performed in 2 phases. In an initial phantom study, a Lucite phantom filled with tissue-mimicking gel was assembled. The system was equipped with a single DBS electrode connected to an internal pulse generator. The tip of the electrode was coupled to a fiber optic thermometer with a temperature resolution of 0.1°C. Both anatomical (T1- and T2-weighted) and functional MRI sequences were tested. A temperature change within 2°C from baseline was considered safe. After findings from the phantom study suggested safety, 10 patients with implanted DBS systems targeting various brain areas provided informed consent and underwent 3-T MRI using the same imaging sequences. Detailed neurological evaluations and internal pulse generator interrogations were performed before and after imaging.

RESULTS

During phantom testing, the maximum temperature increase was registered using the T2-weighted sequence. The maximal temperature changes at the tip of the DBS electrode were < 1°C for all sequences tested. In all patients, adequate images were obtained with structural imaging, although a significant artifact from lead connectors interfered with functional imaging quality. No heating, warmth, or adverse neurological effects were observed.

CONCLUSIONS

To the authors' knowledge, this was the first study to assess the clinical safety of 3-T MRI in patients with a fully implanted DBS system (electrodes, extensions, and pulse generator). It provided preliminary data that will allow further examination and assessment of the safety of 3-T imaging studies in patients with implanted DBS systems. The authors cannot advocate widespread use of this type of imaging in patients with DBS implants until more safety data are obtained.

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David J. Mikulis, Gregory Krolczyk, Hubert Desal, William Logan, Gabrielle deVeber, Peter Dirks, Michael Tymianski, Adrian Crawley, Alex Vesely, Andrea Kassner, David Preiss, Ron Somogyi and Joseph A. Fisher

Object. The ability to map cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) at the tissue level in patients with moyamoya disease could have considerable impact on patient management, especially in guiding surgical intervention and assessing the effectiveness of surgical revascularization. This paper introduces a new noninvasive magnetic resonance (MR) imaging—based method to map CVR. Preoperative and postoperative results are reported in three cases to demonstrate the efficacy of this technique in assessing vascular reserve at the microvascular level.

Methods. Three patients with angiographically confirmed moyamoya disease were evaluated before and after surgical revascularization. Measurements of CVR were obtained by rapidly manipulating end-tidal PCO2 between hypercapnic and hypocapnic states during MR imaging. The CVR maps were then calculated by comparing the percentage of changes in MR signal with changes in end-tidal PCO2.

Presurgical CVR maps showed distinct regions of positive and negative reactivity that correlated precisely with the vascular territories supplied by severely narrowed vessels. Postsurgical reactivity maps demonstrated improvement in the two patients with positive clinical outcome and no change in the patient in whom a failed superficial temporal artery—middle cerebral artery bypass was performed.

Conclusions. Magnetic imaging—based CVR mapping during rapid manipulation of end-tidal PCO2 is an exciting new method for determining the location and extent of abnormal vascular reactivity secondary to proximal large-vessel stenoses in moyamoya disease. Although the study group is small, there seems to be considerable potential for guiding preoperative decisions and monitoring efficacy of surgical revascularization.

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Ali R. Rezai, Andres M. Lozano, Adrian P. Crawley, Michael L. G. Joy, Karen D. Davis, Chun L. Kwan, Jonathan O. Dostrovsky, Ronald R. Tasker and David J. Mikulis

✓ The utility of functional magnetic resonance (fMR) imaging in patients with implanted thalamic electrodes has not yet been determined. The aim of this study was to establish the safety of performing fMR imaging in patients with thalamic deep brain stimulators and to determine the value of fMR imaging in detecting cortical and subcortical activity during stimulation.

Functional MR imaging was performed in three patients suffering from chronic pain and two patients with essential tremor. Two of the three patients with pain had undergone electrode implantation in the thalamic sensory ventralis caudalis (Vc) nucleus and the other had undergone electrode implantation in both the Vc and the periventricular gray (PVG) matter. Patients with tremor underwent electrode implantation in the ventralis intermedius (Vim) nucleus. Functional MR imaging was performed during stimulation by using a pulse generator connected to a transcutaneous extension lead. Clinically, Vc stimulation evoked paresthesias in the contralateral body, PVG stimulation evoked a sensation of diffuse internal body warmth, and Vim stimulation caused tremor arrest.

Functional images were acquired using a 1.5-tesla MR imaging system. The Vc stimulation at intensities provoking paresthesias resulted in activation of the primary somatosensory cortex (SI). Stimulation at subthreshold intensities failed to activate the SI. Additional stimulation-coupled activation was observed in the thalamus, the secondary somatosensory cortex (SII), and the insula. In contrast, stimulation of the PVG electrode did not evoke paresthesias or activate the SI, but resulted in medial thalamic and cingulate cortex activation. Stimulation in the Vim resulted in thalamic, basal ganglia, and SI activation.

An evaluation of the safety of the procedure indicated that significant current could be induced within the electrode if a faulty connecting cable (defective insulation) came in contact with the patient. Simple precautions, such as inspection of wires for fraying and prevention of their contact with the patient, enabled the procedure to be conducted safely. Clinical safety was further corroborated by performing 86 MR studies in patients in whom electrodes had been implanted with no adverse clinical effects.

This is the first report of the use of fMR imaging during stimulation with implanted thalamic electrodes. The authors' findings demonstrate that fMR imaging can safely detect the activation of cortical and subcortical neuronal pathways during stimulation and that stimulation does not interfere with imaging. This approach offers great potential for understanding the mechanisms of action of deep brain stimulation and those underlying pain and tremor generation.

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Alexandre Boutet, Ileana Hancu, Utpal Saha, Adrian Crawley, David S. Xu, Manish Ranjan, Eugen Hlasny, Robert Chen, Warren Foltz, Francesco Sammartino, Ailish Coblentz, Walter Kucharczyk and Andres M. Lozano

OBJECTIVE

Physicians are more frequently encountering patients who are treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS), yet many MRI centers do not routinely perform MRI in this population. This warrants a safety assessment to improve DBS patients’ accessibility to MRI, thereby improving their care while simultaneously providing a new tool for neuromodulation research.

METHODS

A phantom simulating a patient with a DBS neuromodulation device (DBS lead model 3387 and IPG Activa PC model 37601) was constructed and used. Temperature changes at the most ventral DBS electrode contacts, implantable pulse generator (IPG) voltages, specific absorption rate (SAR), and B1+rms were recorded during 3-T MRI scanning. Safety data were acquired with a transmit body multi-array receive and quadrature transmit-receive head coil during various pulse sequences, using numerous DBS configurations from “the worst” to “the most common.”

In addition, 3-T MRI scanning (T1 and fMRI) was performed on 41 patients with fully internalized and active DBS using a quadrature transmit-receive head coil. MR images, neurological examination findings, and stability of the IPG impedances were assessed.

RESULTS

In the phantom study, temperature rises at the DBS electrodes were less than 2°C for both coils during 3D SPGR, EPI, DTI, and SWI. Sequences with intense radiofrequency pulses such as T2-weighted sequences may cause higher heating (due to their higher SAR). The IPG did not power off and kept a constant firing rate, and its average voltage output was unchanged. The 41 DBS patients underwent 3-T MRI with no adverse event.

CONCLUSIONS

Under the experimental conditions used in this study, 3-T MRI scanning of DBS patients with selected pulse sequences appears to be safe. Generally, T2-weighted sequences (using routine protocols) should be avoided in DBS patients. Complementary 3-T MRI phantom safety data suggest that imaging conditions that are less restrictive than those used in the patients in this study, such as using transmit body multi-array receive coils, may also be safe. Given the interplay between the implanted DBS neuromodulation device and the MRI system, these findings are specific to the experimental conditions in this study.