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Frances Weaver, Kenneth Follett, Kwan Hur, Dolores Ippolito and Matthew Stern

Object. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat advanced Parkinson disease (PD) has been focused on one of two anatomical targets: the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the globus pallidus internus (GPI). Authors of more than 65 articles have reported on bilateral DBS outcomes. With one exception, these studies involved pre- and postintervention comparisons of a single target. Despite the paucity of data directly comparing STN and GPI DBS, many clinicians already consider the STN to be the preferred target site. In this study the authors conducted a metaanalysis of the existing literature on patient outcomes following DBS of the STN and the GPI.

Methods. This metaanalysis includes 31 STN and 14 GPI studies. Motor function improved significantly following stimulation (54% in patients whose STN was targeted and 40% in those whose GPI was stimulated), with effect sizes (ESs) of 2.59 and 2.04, respectively. After controlling for participant and study characteristics, patients who had undergone either STN or GPI DBS experienced comparable improved motor function following surgery (p = 0.094). The performance of activities of daily living improved significantly in patients with either target (40%). Medication requirements were significantly reduced following stimulation of the STN (ES = 1.51) but did not change when the GPI was stimulated (ES = −0.02).

Conclusions. In this analysis the authors highlight the need for uniform, detailed reporting of comprehensive motor and nonmotor DBS outcomes at multiple time points and for a randomized trial of bilateral STN and GPI DBS.

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Günther Deuschl, Kenneth A. Follett, Ping Luo, Joern Rau, Frances M. Weaver, Steffen Paschen, Frank Steigerwald, Lisa Tonder, Valerie Stoker and Domenic J. Reda


Several randomized studies have compared the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus with the best medical treatment in large groups of patients. Important outcome measures differ between studies. Two such major studies, the life-quality study of the German Competence Network for Parkinson’s disease (LQ study) and the US Veterans Affairs/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke trial (VA/NINDS trial), were compared here in order to understand their differences in outcomes.


Unless otherwise noted, analyses were based on those subjects in each study who received a DBS implant (LQ study 76 patients, VA/NINDS trial 140 patients) and who had data for the measurement under consideration (i.e., no imputations for missing data), referred to hereafter as the “as-treated completers” (LQ 69 patients, VA/NINDS 125 patients). Data were prepared and analyzed by biostatisticians at the US Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials Marburg, and Medtronic, under the direction of two authors (G.D. and K.A.F.). Data were extracted from the respective databases into SAS data sets and analyzed using SAS software. Analyses were based on the 6-month follow-up data from both studies because this was the endpoint for the LQ study.


Pre-DBS baseline demographics differed significantly between the studies, including greater levodopa responsiveness (LDR) in the LQ study population than in the VA/NINDS group. After DBS, LQ subjects demonstrated greater improvement in motor function (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, Motor Examination [UPDRS-III]), activities of daily living (ADLs), and complications of therapy. Medication reduction and improvements in life quality other than ADLs were not significantly different between LQ and VA/NINDS subjects. When the two populations were compared according to pre-DBS LDR, the “full responders” to levodopa (≥ 50% improvement on UPDRS-III with medication) in the two studies showed no significant difference in motor improvement with DBS (LQ 18.5 ± 12.0–point improvement on UPDRS-III vs VA/NINDS 17.7 ± 15.6–point improvement, p = 0.755). Among levodopa full responders, ADLs improved slightly more in the LQ group, but scores on other UPDRS subscales and the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 were not significantly different between the two studies.


This comparison suggests that patient selection criteria, especially preoperative LDR, are the most important source of differences in motor outcomes and quality of life between the two studies.