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Andre A. Wakim, Jennifer B. Mattar, Margaret Lambert, and Francisco A. Ponce

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an elective procedure that can dramatically enhance quality of life. Because DBS is not considered lifesaving, it is important that providers produce consistently good outcomes, and one factor they usually consider is patient age. While older age may be a relative contraindication for some elective surgeries, the progressive nature of movement disorders treated with DBS may suggest that older patients stand to benefit substantially from surgery. To better understand the risks of treating patients of advanced age with DBS, this study compares perioperative complication rates in patients ≥ 75 to those < 75 years old.

METHODS

Patients undergoing DBS surgery for various indications by a single surgeon (May 2013–July 2019) were stratified into elderly (age ≥ 75 years) and younger (age < 75 years) cohorts. The risks of common perioperative complications and various outcome measures were compared between the two age groups using risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

RESULTS

A total of 861 patients were available for analysis: 179 (21%) were ≥ 75 years old and 682 (79%) were < 75 years old (p < 0.001). Patients ≥ 75 years old, compared with those < 75 years old, did not have significantly different RRs (95% CIs) of seizure (RR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1–3.3), cerebrovascular accident (RR 1.9, 95% CI 0.4–10.3), readmission within 90 days of discharge (RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.8–1.8), explantation due to infection (RR 2.5, 95% CI 0.4–15.1), or surgical revision (for lead, RR 2.5, 95% CI 0.4–15.1; for internal pulse generator, RR 3.8, 95% CI 0.2–61.7). Although the risk of postoperative intracranial bleeding was higher in the elderly group (6.1%) than in the younger group (3.1%), this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.06). However, patients ≥ 75 years old did have significantly increased risk of altered mental status (RR 2.5, 95% CI 1.6–4.0), experiencing more than a 1-night stay (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.4–2.0), and urinary retention (RR 2.3, 95% CI 1.2–4.2; p = 0.009).

CONCLUSIONS

Although elderly patients had higher risks of certain outcome measures than younger patients, this study showed that elderly patients undergoing DBS for movement disorders did not have an increased risk of more serious complications, such as intracranial hemorrhage, infection, or readmission. Advanced age alone should not be considered a contraindication for DBS.

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Andre A. Wakim, Jennifer B. Mattar, Margaret Lambert, and Francisco A. Ponce

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an elective procedure that can dramatically enhance quality of life. Because DBS is not considered lifesaving, it is important that providers produce consistently good outcomes, and one factor they usually consider is patient age. While older age may be a relative contraindication for some elective surgeries, the progressive nature of movement disorders treated with DBS may suggest that older patients stand to benefit substantially from surgery. To better understand the risks of treating patients of advanced age with DBS, this study compares perioperative complication rates in patients ≥ 75 to those < 75 years old.

METHODS

Patients undergoing DBS surgery for various indications by a single surgeon (May 2013–July 2019) were stratified into elderly (age ≥ 75 years) and younger (age < 75 years) cohorts. The risks of common perioperative complications and various outcome measures were compared between the two age groups using risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

RESULTS

A total of 861 patients were available for analysis: 179 (21%) were ≥ 75 years old and 682 (79%) were < 75 years old (p < 0.001). Patients ≥ 75 years old, compared with those < 75 years old, did not have significantly different RRs (95% CIs) of seizure (RR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1–3.3), cerebrovascular accident (RR 1.9, 95% CI 0.4–10.3), readmission within 90 days of discharge (RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.8–1.8), explantation due to infection (RR 2.5, 95% CI 0.4–15.1), or surgical revision (for lead, RR 2.5, 95% CI 0.4–15.1; for internal pulse generator, RR 3.8, 95% CI 0.2–61.7). Although the risk of postoperative intracranial bleeding was higher in the elderly group (6.1%) than in the younger group (3.1%), this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.06). However, patients ≥ 75 years old did have significantly increased risk of altered mental status (RR 2.5, 95% CI 1.6–4.0), experiencing more than a 1-night stay (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.4–2.0), and urinary retention (RR 2.3, 95% CI 1.2–4.2; p = 0.009).

CONCLUSIONS

Although elderly patients had higher risks of certain outcome measures than younger patients, this study showed that elderly patients undergoing DBS for movement disorders did not have an increased risk of more serious complications, such as intracranial hemorrhage, infection, or readmission. Advanced age alone should not be considered a contraindication for DBS.

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Andre A. Wakim, Natasha A. Sioda, James J. Zhou, Margaret Lambert, Virgilio Gerald H. Evidente, and Francisco A. Ponce

OBJECTIVE

The ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus (VIM) is an effective target for deep brain stimulation (DBS) to control symptoms related to essential tremor. The VIM is typically targeted using indirect methods, although studies have reported visualization of the VIM on proton density–weighted MRI. This study compares the outcomes between patients who underwent VIM DBS with direct and indirect targeting.

METHODS

Between August 2013 and December 2019, 230 patients underwent VIM DBS at the senior author’s institution. Of these patients, 92 had direct targeting (direct visualization on proton density 3-T MRI). The remaining 138 patients had indirect targeting (relative to the third ventricle and anterior commissure–posterior commissure line).

RESULTS

Coordinates of electrodes placed with direct targeting were significantly more lateral (p < 0.001) and anterior (p < 0.001) than those placed with indirect targeting. The optimal stimulation amplitude for devices measured in voltage was lower for those who underwent direct targeting than for those who underwent indirect targeting (p < 0.001). Patients undergoing direct targeting had a greater improvement only in their Quality of Life in Essential Tremor Questionnaire hobby score versus those undergoing indirect targeting (p = 0.04). The direct targeting group had substantially more symptomatic hemorrhages than the indirect targeting group (p = 0.04). All patients who experienced a postoperative hemorrhage after DBS recovered without intervention.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who underwent direct VIM targeting for DBS treatment of essential tremor had similar clinical outcomes to those who underwent indirect targeting. Direct VIM targeting is safe and effective.