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Michael Pourfar, Chengke Tang, Tanya Lin, Vijay Dhawan, Michael G. Kaplitt and David Eidelberg


The authors investigated whether the insertion of deep brain stimulation electrodes into the subthalamic nucleus can alter regional brain metabolism in the absence of stimulation.


Six patients with Parkinson disease (PD) underwent preoperative FDG PET scanning, and again after STN electrode implantation with stimulation turned off.


Compared with baseline values, glucose utilization was reduced in the postoperative off-stimulation scans in the putamen/globus pallidus and in the ventral thalamus (p < 0.01), and there was increased metabolism in the sensorimotor cortex and cerebellum (p < 0.005). The expression of a specific PD-related spatial covariance pattern measured in the FDG PET data did not change after electrode implantation (p = 0.36), nor was there a significant change in clinical motor ratings (p = 0.44). Differences in PD-related spatial covariance pattern expression among the patients after electrode implantation did, however, correlate with the number of microelectrode recording trajectories placed during surgery (r = –0.82, p < 0.05).


These findings suggest that electrode implantation can impart a microlesion effect on regional brain function. Nonetheless, these local changes did not cross the threshold of network modulation needed to achieve clinical benefit.

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Richard Kim, Ron Alterman, Patrick J. Kelly, Enrico Fazzini, David Eidelberg, Alaksandar Beric and Djorje Sterio

Unilateral pallidotomy is a safe and effective treatment for medically refractory bradykinetic Parkinson's disease, especially in those patients with levodopa-induced dyskinesia and severe on-off fluctuations. The efficacy of bilateral pallidotomy is less certain.

The authors completed 11 of 12 attempted bilateral pallidotomies among 150 patients undergoing pallidotomy at New York University. In all but one patient, the pallidotomies were separated by at least 9 months. Patients were selected for bilateral pallidotomy if they exhibited bilateral rigidity, bradykinesia, or levodopa-induced dyskinesia prior to treatment or if they exhibited disease progression contralateral to their previously treated side.

The Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and timed upper-extremity tasks of the Core Assessment Protocol for Intracerebral Transplantation (CAPIT) were administered to all 12 patients in the “off” state (12 hours without receiving medications) preoperatively and again at 6 and 12 months after each procedure. The median UPDRS and contralateral CAPIT scores improved 60% following the initial procedure (p = 0.008, Wilcoxon rank sums test). The second pallidotomy generated only an additional 10% improvement in the UPDRS and CAPIT scores ipsilateral to the original procedure (p = 0.05). Worsened speech was observed in two cases. In the 12th case, total speech arrest was noted during test stimulation. Speech returned within minutes after stimulation was halted. Lesioning was not performed.

These results indicate that bilateral pallidotomy has a narrow therapeutic window. Motor improvement ipsilateral to the first lesion leaves little room for further improvement from the second lesion and the risk of speech deficit is greatly enhanced. Chronic pallidal stimulation contralateral to a previously successful pallidotomy may prove to be a safer alternative for the subset of patients who require bilateral procedures.

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Michael H. Pourfar, Chris C. Tang, Alon Y. Mogilner, Vijay Dhawan and David Eidelberg

The frequency with which patients with atypical parkinsonism and advanced motor symptoms undergo deep brain stimulation (DBS) procedures is unknown. However, the potential exposure of these patients to unnecessary surgical risks makes their identification critical. As many as 15% of patients enrolled in recent early Parkinson disease (PD) trials have been found to lack evidence of a dopaminergic deficit following PET or SPECT imaging. This suggests that a number of patients with parkinsonism who are referred for DBS may not have idiopathic PD. The authors report on 2 patients with probable psychogenic parkinsonism who presented for DBS surgery. They found that both patients had normal caudate and putamen [18F]-fluorodopa uptake on PET imaging, along with normal expression of specific disease-related metabolic networks for PD and multiple system atrophy, a common form of atypical neurodegenerative parkinsonism. The clinical and PET findings in these patients highlight the role of functional imaging in assisting clinical decision making when the diagnosis is uncertain.

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Maja Trošt, Philip C. Su, Anna Barnes, Sherwin L. Su, Ruoh-Fang Yen, Ham-min Tseng, Yilong Ma and David Eidelberg

Object. Short-term benefit from unilateral subthalamotomy for advanced Parkinson disease (PD) is associated with metabolic alterations in key targets of subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus (GP) output. In this study positron emission tomography (PET) scanning was used to assess these changes and their relation to long-term benefits of subthalamotomy.

Methods. To determine whether the early postoperative changes persisted at longer-term follow up, the authors assessed six patients with advanced PD by using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose—PET at 3 and 12 months postsurgery. The authors compared each of the postoperative images with baseline studies, and assessed interval changes between the short- and long-term follow-up scans.

Clinical improvement at 3 and 12 months was associated with sustained metabolic decreases in the midbrain GP internus (GPi), thalamus, and pons of the lesioned side (p < 0.01). The activity of a PD-related multiregional brain network, which correlated with bradykinesia and rigidity, was reduced at both postoperative time points (p < 0.05). Comparisons of 3- and 12-month images revealed a relative metabolic increase in the GP externus (GPe) (p < 0.001), which was associated with worsening gait, postural stability, and tremor at long-term follow up.

Conclusions. These findings indicate that subthalamotomy may have differential effects on each of the functional pathways that mediate parkinsonian symptomatology. Sustained relief of akinesia and rigidity is associated with suppression of a pathological network involving the GPi and its output. In contrast, the recurrence of tremor may relate to changes in the function of an STN—GPe oscillatory network.