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Differences in functional connectivity profiles as a predictor of response to anterior thalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for epilepsy: a hypothesis for the mechanism of action and a potential biomarker for outcomes

Erik H. Middlebrooks, Sanjeet S. Grewal, Matthew Stead, Brian N. Lundstrom, Gregory A. Worrell, and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT) is a promising therapy for refractory epilepsy. Unfortunately, the variability in outcomes from ANT DBS is not fully understood. In this pilot study, the authors assess potential differences in functional connectivity related to the volume of tissue activated (VTA) in ANT DBS responders and nonresponders as a means for better understanding the mechanism of action and potentially improving DBS targeting.

METHODS

This retrospective analysis consisted of 6 patients who underwent ANT DBS for refractory epilepsy. Patients were classified as responders (n = 3) if their seizure frequency decreased by at least 50%. The DBS electrodes were localized postoperatively and VTAs were computationally generated based on DBS programming settings. VTAs were used as seed points for resting-state functional MRI connectivity analysis performed using a control dataset. Differences in cortical connectivity to the VTA were assessed between the responder and nonresponder groups.

RESULTS

The ANT DBS responders showed greater positive connectivity with the default mode network compared to nonresponders, including the posterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal lobule, and precuneus. Interestingly, there was also a consistent anticorrelation with the hippocampus seen in responders that was not present in nonresponders.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on their pilot study, the authors observed that successful ANT DBS in patients with epilepsy produces increased connectivity in the default mode network, which the authors hypothesize increases the threshold for seizure propagation. Additionally, an inhibitory effect on the hippocampus mediated through increased hippocampal γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentration may contribute to seizure suppression. Future studies are planned to confirm these findings.

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Phase I trial: safety and feasibility of intracranial electroencephalography using hybrid subdural electrodes containing macro- and microelectrode arrays

Jamie J. Van Gompel, S. Matthew Stead, Caterina Giannini, Fredric B. Meyer, W. Richard Marsh, Todd Fountain, Elson So, Aaron Cohen-Gadol, Kendall H. Lee, and Gregory A. Worrell

Object

Cerebral cortex electrophysiology is poorly sampled using standard, low spatial resolution clinical intracranial electrodes. Adding microelectrode arrays to the standard clinical macroelectrode arrays increases the spatial resolution and may ultimately improve the clinical utility of intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG). However, the safety of hybrid electrode systems containing standard clinical macroelectrode and microelectrode arrays is not yet known. The authors report on their preliminary experience in 24 patients who underwent implantation of hybrid electrodes.

Methods

In this study, 24 consecutive patients underwent long-term iEEG monitoring with implanted hybrid depth and subdural grid and strip electrodes; both clinical macroelectrodes and research microelectrodes were used. The patients included 18 women and 6 men with an average age of 35 ± 12 years (range 21–65). The mean hospital stay was 11 ± 4 days (range 5–20), with mean duration of implantation 7.0 ± 3.2 days (range 3–15). Data from the 198 consecutive craniotomies for standard clinical subdural grid insertion (prior to surgery in the 24 patients described here) were used for comparison to investigate the relative risk of complications.

Results

Focal seizure identification and subsequent resection was performed in 20 patients. One patient underwent a subsequent operation after neurological deterioration secondary to cerebral swelling and a 5-mm subdural hematoma. There were no infections. The overall complication rate was 4.2% (only 1 patient had a complication), which did not significantly differ from the complication rate previously reported by the authors of 6.6% when standard subdural and depth intracranial electrodes were used. There were no deaths or permanent neurological deficits related to electrode implantation.

Conclusions

The authors demonstrate the use of hybrid subdural strip and grid electrodes containing high-density microwire arrays and standard clinical macroelectrodes. Hybrid electrodes provide high spatial resolution electrophysiology of the neocortex that is impossible with standard clinical iEEG. In this initial study in 24 patients, the complication rate is acceptable, and there does not appear to be increased risk associated with the use of hybrid electrodes compared with standard subdural and depth iEEG electrodes. More research is required to show whether hybrid electrode recordings will improve localization of epileptic foci and tracking the generation of neocortical seizures.

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Fast gray matter acquisition T1 inversion recovery MRI to delineate the mammillothalamic tract for preoperative direct targeting of the anterior nucleus of the thalamus for deep brain stimulation in epilepsy

Sanjeet S. Grewal, Erik H. Middlebrooks, Timothy J. Kaufmann, Matthew Stead, Brian N. Lundstrom, Gregory A. Worrell, Chen Lin, Serhat Baydin, and Jamie J. Van Gompel

When medically intractable epilepsy is multifocal or focal but poorly localized, neuromodulation can be useful therapy. One such technique is deep brain stimulation (DBS) targeting the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT). Unfortunately, the ANT is difficult to visualize in standard MRI sequences and its indirect targeting is difficult because of thalamic variability and atrophy in patients with epilepsy. The following study describes the novel use of the fast gray matter acquisition T1 inversion recovery (FGATIR) MRI sequence to delineate the mammillothalamic tract for direct targeting of the ANT through visualizing the termination of the mammillothalamic tract in the ANT.

The day prior to surgery in a 19-year-old, right-handed woman with a 5-year history of epilepsy, MRI was performed on a 3-T Siemens Prisma scanner (Siemens AG, Healthcare Sector) using a 64-channel head and neck coil. As part of the imaging protocol, noncontrast magnetization-prepared rapid gradient echo (MP-RAGE) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) sequences were obtained for targeting purposes. The ANT was directly targeted using the FGATIR sequence, and bilateral Medtronic 3389 leads were placed. At the last follow-up (2 months), the patient reported an approximate 75% decrease in seizure frequency, as well as a decrease in seizure severity.

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Intracranial electroencephalography seizure onset patterns and surgical outcomes in nonlesional extratemporal epilepsy

Clinical article

Nicholas M. Wetjen, W. Richard Marsh, Fredric B. Meyer, Gregory D. Cascino, Elson So, Jeffrey W. Britton, S. Matthew Stead, and Gregory A. Worrell

Object

Patients with normal MR imaging (nonlesional) findings and medically refractory extratemporal epilepsy make up a disproportionate number of nonexcellent outcomes after epilepsy surgery. In this paper, the authors investigated the usefulness of intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) in the identification of surgical candidates.

Methods

Between 1992 and 2002, 51 consecutive patients with normal MR imaging findings and extratemporal epilepsy underwent intracranial electrode monitoring. The implantation of intracranial electrodes was determined by seizure semiology, interictal and ictal scalp EEG, SPECT, and in some patients PET studies. The demographics of patients at the time of surgery, lobar localization of electrode implantation, duration of follow-up, and Engel outcome score were abstracted from the Mayo Rochester Epilepsy Surgery Database. A blinded independent review of the iEEG records was conducted for this study.

Results

Thirty-one (61%) of the 51 patients who underwent iEEG ultimately underwent resection for their epilepsy. For 28 (90.3%) of the 31 patients who had epilepsy surgery, adequate information regarding follow-up (> 1 year), seizure frequency, and iEEG recordings was available. Twenty-six (92.9%) of 28 patients had frontal lobe resections, and 2 had parietal lobe resections. The most common iEEG pattern at seizure onset in the surgically treated group was a focal high-frequency discharge (in 15 [53.6%] of 28 patients). Ten (35.7%) of the 28 surgically treated patients were seizure free. Fourteen (50%) had Engel Class I outcomes, and overall, 17 (60.7%) had significant improvement (Engel Class I and IIAB with ≥80% seizure reduction). Focal high-frequency oscillation at seizure onset was associated with Engel Class I surgical outcome (12 [85.7%] of 14 patients, p = 0.02), and it was uncommon in the nonexcellent outcome group (3 [21.4%] of 14 patients).

Conclusions

A focal high-frequency oscillation (> 20 Hz) at seizure onset on iEEG may identify patients with nonlesional extratemporal epilepsy who are likely to have an Engel Class I outcome after epilepsy surgery. The prospect of excellent outcome in nonlesional extratemporal lobe epilepsy prior to intracranial monitoring is poor (14 [27.5%] of 51 patients). However, iEEG can further stratify patients and help identify those with a greater likelihood of Engel Class I outcome after surgery.

Restricted access

Chronic subthreshold cortical stimulation for adult drug-resistant focal epilepsy: safety, feasibility, and technique

Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Sanjeet S. Grewal, Matthew Stead, Brian Nils Lundstrom, Jeffrey W. Britton, Cheolsu Shin, Gregory D. Cascino, Benjamin H. Brinkmann, Gregory A. Worrell, and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECTIVE

Epilepsy surgery is effective for lesional epilepsy, but it can be associated with significant morbidity when seizures originate from eloquent cortex that is resected. Here, the objective was to describe chronic subthreshold cortical stimulation and evaluate its early surgical safety profile in adult patients with epilepsy originating from seizure foci in cortex that is not amenable to resection.

METHODS

Adult patients with focal drug-resistant epilepsy underwent intracranial electroencephalography monitoring for evaluation of resection. Those with seizure foci in eloquent cortex were not candidates for resection and were offered a short therapeutic trial of continuous subthreshold cortical stimulation via intracranial monitoring electrodes. After a successful trial, electrodes were explanted and permanent stimulation hardware was implanted.

RESULTS

Ten patients (6 males) who underwent chronic subthreshold cortical stimulation between 2014 and 2016 were included. Based on radiographic imaging, intracranial pathologies included cortical dysplasia (n = 3), encephalomalacia (n = 3), cortical tubers (n = 1), Rasmussen encephalitis (n = 1), and linear migrational anomaly (n = 1). The duration of intracranial monitoring ranged from 3 to 20 days. All patients experienced an uneventful postoperative course and were discharged home with a median length of stay of 10 days. No postoperative surgical complications developed (median follow-up length 7.7 months). Seizure severity and seizure frequency improved in all patients.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ institutional experience with this small group shows that chronic subthreshold cortical stimulation can be safely and effectively performed in appropriately selected patients without postoperative complications. Future investigation will provide further insight to recently published results regarding mechanism and efficacy of this novel and promising intervention.