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Patric Blomstedt

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Johanna Philipson, Patric Blomstedt, Marwan Hariz, and Marjan Jahanshahi

OBJECTIVE

The ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus is currently the established target in the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat essential tremor (ET). In recent years, the caudal zona incerta (cZi), a brain target commonly used during the lesional era, has been revived as the primary target in a number of DBS studies that show evidence of the efficacy of cZi targeting in DBS treatment for controlling the symptoms of ET. The authors sought to obtain comprehensive neuropsychological data and thoroughly investigate the cognitive effects of cZi targeting in patients with ET treated with DBS.

METHODS

Twenty-six consecutive patients with ET who received DBS with cZi as the target at our department from December 2012 to February 2017 were included in this study. All patients were assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery covering the major cognitive domains both preoperatively and 12 months postoperatively.

RESULTS

The results show no major adverse effects on patient performance on the tests of cognitive function other than a slight decline of semantic verbal fluency.

CONCLUSIONS

This study indicates that the cZi is a safe target from a cognitive perspective in the treatment of ET with DBS.

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Marwan I. Hariz, Patric Blomstedt, and Ludvic Zrinzo

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the most rapidly expanding field in neurosurgery. Movement disorders are well-established indications for DBS, and a number of other neurological and psychiatric indications are currently being investigated.

Numerous contemporary opinions, reviews, and viewpoints on DBS fail to provide a comprehensive account of how this method came into being. Misconceptions in the narrative history of DBS conveyed by the wealth of literature published over the last 2 decades can be summarized as follows: Deep brain stimulation was invented in 1987. The utility of high-frequency stimulation was also discovered in 1987. Lesional surgery preceded DBS. Deep brain stimulation was first used in the treatment of movement disorders and was subsequently used in the treatment of psychiatric and behavioral disorders. Reports of nonmotor effects of subthalamic nucleus DBS prompted its use in psychiatric illness. Early surgical interventions for psychiatric illness failed to adopt a multidisciplinary approach; neurosurgeons often worked “in isolation” from other medical specialists. The involvement of neuro-ethicists and multidisciplinary teams are novel standards introduced in the modern practice of DBS for mental illness that are essential in avoiding the unethical behavior of bygone eras.

In this paper, the authors examined each of these messages in the light of literature published since 1947 and formed the following conclusions. Chronic stimulation of subcortical structures was first used in the early 1950s, very soon after the introduction of human stereotaxy. Studies and debate on the stimulation frequency most likely to achieve desirable results and avoid side effects date back to the early days of DBS; several authors advocated the use of “high” frequency, although the exact frequency was not always specified. Ablative surgery and electrical stimulation developed in parallel, practically since the introduction of human stereotactic surgery. The first applications of both ablative surgery and chronic subcortical stimulation were in psychiatry, not in movement disorders. The renaissance of DBS in surgical treatment of psychiatric illness in 1999 had little to do with nonmotor effects of subthalamic nucleus DBS but involved high-frequency stimulation of the very same brain targets previously used in ablative surgery. Pioneers in functional neurosurgery mostly worked in multidisciplinary groups, including when treating psychiatric illness; those “acting in isolation” were not neurosurgeons. Ethical concerns have indeed been addressed in the past, by neurosurgeons and others. Some of the questionable behavior in surgery for psychiatric illness, including the bygone era of DBS, was at the hands of nonneurosurgeons. These practices have been deemed as “dubious and precarious by yesterday's standards.”

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Johanna Philipson, Patric Blomstedt, Anna Fredricks, Marwan Hariz, Rasmus Stenmark Persson, and Marjan Jahanshahi

OBJECTIVE

A growing number of studies are showing positive effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the caudal zona incerta (cZi) in various tremor disorders, as well as motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The focus of the present study was to evaluate short- and long-term cognitive effects of bilateral cZi DBS in patients with PD.

METHODS

Twenty-five nondemented patients with advanced PD were recruited to participate in a randomized trial of cZi DBS versus best medical treatment (BMT). The patients in the BMT group were offered surgery after 6 months. Neuropsychological evaluations focusing on assessing verbal and visuospatial memory, attention, and executive function were conducted at baseline and at 6 and 24 months after surgery. Self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and change in “frontal” behaviors were also completed at all assessment points.

RESULTS

Bilateral cZi DBS in patients with PD generated few adverse cognitive effects. At the short-term follow-up after 6 months, no differences were found between patients randomized to BMT and patients randomized to DBS with regard to most of the cognitive domains assessed. A transient improvement in anxiety was, however, found in the surgical group. At the long-term follow-up 24 months after cZi DBS, no major changes in global cognitive functioning were found, although a decline in attention and self-reported executive function was noted.

CONCLUSIONS

With the exception of a decline in attention and self-reported executive function, bilateral cZi DBS for PD in appropriately screened patients appears to be generally safe with regard to cognitive function, both in the short- and long-term perspective.

Open access

Marwan Hariz, Loránd Eröss, Gun-Marie Hariz, Botond Eröss, Laura Cif, Patric Blomstedt, and Yves Agid

Recently, a series of historical reports portrayed the first women neurosurgeons in various countries. One such woman, a pioneer on many levels, remained unrecognized: Judith Balkányi-Lepintre. She was the first woman neurosurgeon in France, the first woman war neurosurgeon for the French Army, and the first woman pediatric neurosurgeon in France. Born in 1912 to a Hungarian Jewish family, she graduated with honors from medical school in Budapest in 1935, then moved to Paris where she started neurosurgical training in 1937 at L’Hôpital de la Pitié under the mentorship of Clovis Vincent, the founder of French neurosurgery. Shortly after marrying a French colleague in 1940, she had to escape the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) in Paris and ended up in Algeria, where she joined the French Army of De Gaulle. As a neurosurgeon, she participated in the campaigns of Italy and France between 1943 and 1945. After the war, she returned to work at La Pitié Hospital. In 1947, she defended her doctoral thesis, “Treatment of cranio-cerebral wounds by projectiles and their early complications.” Soon thereafter, she joined Europe’s first dedicated children’s hospital, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades in Paris, and contributed to the establishment of pediatric neurosurgery in France. She remained clinically and academically active at Necker until her death in 1982 but was never promoted.

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Ludvic Zrinzo, Patric Blomstedt, and Marwan Hariz