Object. Adjusting electrical parameters used in deep brain stimulation (DBS) for dystonia remains time consuming and is currently based on clinical observation alone. The goal of this study was to visualize electrical parameters around the electrode, to correlate these parameters with the anatomy of the globus pallidus internus (GPI), and to study the relationship between the volume of stimulated tissue and the electrical parameter settings.
Methods. The authors developed a computer-assisted methodological model for visualizing electrical parameters (the isopotential and the isoelectric field magnitude), with reference to the stereotactic target, for different stimulation settings (monopolar and bipolar) applied during DBS. Electrical field values were correlated with the anatomy of the GPI, which was determined by performing stereotactic magnetic resonance imaging in one reference patient.
By using this method it is possible to compare potential and electrical field distributions for different stimulation modes. In monopolar and bipolar stimulation, the shape and distribution of the potential and electrical field are different and depend on the stimulation voltage. Distributions visualized for patient-specific parameters can be subsequently correlated with anatomical information. The application of this method to one patient demonstrated that the 0.2-V/mm isofield line fits best with the lateral GPI borders at the level of the stimulated contacts.
Conclusions. The electrical field is a crucial parameter because it is assumed to be responsible for triggering action potentials. Electrical field visualization allows the calculation of the stimulated volume for a given isoline. Its application to an entire series of patients may help determine a threshold for obtaining a therapeutic effect, which is currently unknown, and consequently may aid in optimizing parameter settings in individual patients.