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Volker M. Tronnier, Wolfgang Fogel, Martin Kronenbuerger, and Sarah Steinvorth

A resurgence of interest in the surgical treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD) came with the rediscovery of posteroventral pallidotomy by Laitinen in 1985. Laitinen's procedure improved most symptoms in drug-resistant PD, which engendered wide interest in the neurosurgical community. Another lesioning procedure, ventrolateral thalamotomy, has become a powerful alternative to stimulate the nucleus ventralis intermedius, producing high long-term success rates and low morbidity rates. Pallidal stimulation has not met with the same success. According to the literature pallidotomy improves the “on” symptoms of PD, such as dyskinesias, as well as the “off” symptoms, such as rigidity, bradykinesia, and on-off fluctuations. Pallidal stimulation improves bradykinesia and rigidity to a minor extent; however, its strength seems to be in improving levodopa-induced dyskinesias. Stimulation often produces an improvement in the hyper- or dyskinetic upper limbs, but increases the “freezing” phenomenon in the lower limbs at the same time. Considering the small increase in the patient's independence, the high costs of bilateral implants, and the difficulty most patients experience in handling the devices, the question arises as to whether bilateral pallidal stimulation is a real alternative to pallidotomy.

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Volker M. Tronnier, Wolfgang Fogel, Martin Kronenbuerger, and Sarah Steinvorth

A resurgence of interest in the surgical treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD) came with the rediscovery of posteroventral pallidotomy by Laitinen in 1985. Laitinen's procedure improved most symptoms in drug-resistant PD, which engendered wide interest in the neurosurgical community. Another lesioning procedure, ventrolateral thalamotomy, has become a powerful alternative to stimulate the nucleus ventralis intermedius, producing high long-term success rates and low morbidity rates. Pallidal stimulation has not met with the same success. According to the literature pallidotomy improves the “on” symptoms of PD, such as dyskinesias, as well as the “off” symptoms, such as rigidity, bradykinesia, and on-off fluctuations. Pallidal stimulation improves bradykinesia and rigidity to a minor extent; however, its strength seems to be in improving levodopa-induced dyskinesias. Stimulation often produces an improvement in the hyper- or dyskinetic upper limbs, but increases the “freezing” phenomenon in the lower limbs at the same time. Considering the small increase in the patient's independence, the high costs of bilateral implants, and the difficulty most patients experience in handling the devices, the question arises as to whether bilateral pallidal stimulation is a real alternative to pallidotomy.

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Hans-Holger Capelle, Richard K. Simpson Jr., Martin Kronenbuerger, Jochen Michaelsen, Volker Tronnier, and Joachim K. Krauss

Object. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become an accepted therapy for movement disorders such as Parkinson disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET), when these conditions are refractory to medical treatment. The presence of a cardiac pacemaker is still considered a contraindication for DBS in functional neurosurgery. The goal of this study was to evaluate the technical and clinical management of DBS for the treatment of movement disorders in elderly patients with cardiac pacemakers.

Methods. Six patients with cardiac pacemakers underwent clinical and cardiac examinations to analyze the safety of DBS in the treatment of movement disorders. Four patients suffered from advanced PD and two patients had ET. The mean age of these patients at surgery was 69.5 years (range 63–79 years). The settings of the pacemakers were programmed in a manner considered to minimize the chance of interference between the two systems.

There were no adverse events during surgery. Four patients underwent stimulation of the thalamic ventralis intermedius nucleus (VIM), and two patients stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus. In general, bipolar sensing was chosen for the cardiac pacemakers. In all but one patient the quadripolar DBS electrodes were programmed for bipolar stimulation. Several control electrocardiography studies, including 24-hour monitoring, did not show any interference between the two systems. At the time this paper was written the patients had been followed up for a mean of 25.3 months (range 4–48 months).

Conclusions. In certain conditions it is safe for patients with cardiac pacemakers to receive DBS for treatment of concomitant movement disorders. Cardiac pacemakers should not be viewed as a general contraindication for DBS in patients with movement disorders.