Twelve patients (seven female, and five male, mean age 55.6 years) suffering from refractory central (ischemic/traumatic [eight cases]) and neuropathic pain (trigeminal neuropathy [four cases]) underwent surgery for the implantation of an epidural motor cortex stimulation (MCS) device in which the authors used a frameless neuronavigation system, the Zeiss-MKM microscope.
The authors assessed the spatial accuracy of the neuronavigation system and its potential contribution to improve the quality of targeting pain. In these patients, the positions of the central sulcus, defined by stereotactic magnetic resonance MR imaging, intraoperative somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) and subdural visual verification, were correlated into the stereotactic neuronavigation planning procedure. The mean spatial accuracy of distance between (MR) imaging–defined and actual central sulcus was 2.4 mm (range 5–10 mm). The intraoperative SSEP-defined central sulcus was close to that defined by MR imaging (mean distance 6.4 mm). Although very precise, intra-operative SSEP recordings were impaired by artifacts and wave attenuation in six of the 12 patients. Stereotactic correlations between anatomical and functional data in the navigation system corrected final targeting in 10 of 12 cases. Pain relief was obtained in eight patients. Indeed, inappropriate targeting probably explains the reported variable success rate of MCS and certainly underestimates the actual efficacy.
Since intraoperative SSEP monitoring has, for many years, been considered the standard procedure to approach motor target, the development of an accurate stereotactic image guidance system could help to increase the efficacy of MCS on the alleviation of pain. The excellent spatial accuracy provided by the Zeiss-MKM navigation system allows precise data correlations that represent a remarkable means to validate functional MR imaging as an alternative to SSEP. The authors believe that developing stereotactic image guidance with such a navigation system could improve the success rate of MCS.