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Klaus Daniel Martin, Witold Henryk Polanski, Anne-Kathrin Schulz, Michael Jöbges, Hansjoerg Hoff, Gabriele Schackert, Thomas Pinzer and Stephan B. Sobottka


The ActiGait drop foot stimulator is a promising technique for restoration of lost ankle function by an implantable hybrid stimulation system. It allows ankle dorsiflexion by active peroneal nerve stimulation during the swing phase of gait. In this paper the authors report the outcome of the first prospective study on a large number of patients with stroke-related drop foot.


Twenty-seven patients who experienced a stroke and with persisting spastic leg paresis received an implantable ActiGait drop foot stimulator for restoration of ankle movement after successful surface test stimulation. After 3 to 5 weeks, the stimulator was activated, and gait speed, gait endurance, and activation time of the system were evaluated and compared with preoperative gait tests. In addition, patient satisfaction was assessed using a questionnaire.


Postoperative gait speed significantly improved from 33.9 seconds per 20 meters to 17.9 seconds per 20 meters (p < 0.0001), gait endurance from 196 meters in 6 minutes to 401 meters in 6 minutes (p < 0.0001), and activation time from 20.5 seconds to 10.6 seconds on average (p < 0.0001). In 2 patients with nerve injury, surgical repositioning of the electrode cuff became necessary. One patient showed a delayed wound healing, and in another patient the system had to be removed because of a wound infection. Marked improvement in mobility, social participation, and quality of life was confirmed by 89% to 96% of patients.


The ActiGait implantable drop foot stimulator improves gait speed, endurance, and quality of life in patients with stroke-related drop foot. Regarding gait speed, the ActiGait system appears to be advantageous compared with foot orthosis or surface stimulation devices. Randomized trials with more patients and longer observation periods are needed to prove the long-term benefit of this device.

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K. Daniel Martin, Witold H. Polanski, Anne-Kathrin Schulz, Michael Jöbges, Tjalf Ziemssen, Gabriele Schackert, Thomas Pinzer and Stephan B. Sobottka


Direct stimulation of the peroneal nerve by the ActiGait implantable drop foot stimulator is a potent therapy that was described previously for stroke-related drop foot. The authors report here successful long-term application of the ActiGait implantable drop foot stimulator in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).


Six patients with MS and 2 years of persisting central leg paresis received an implantable ActiGait drop foot stimulator after successful surface test stimulation. Ten weeks and 1 year after surgery, their gait speed, endurance, and safety were evaluated. Patient satisfaction was assessed with a questionnaire.


In the 20-m gait test, stimulation with the ActiGait stimulator significantly reduced the time needed, on average, by approximately 23.6% 10 weeks after surgery, and the time improved further by 36.3% after 1 year. The median distance covered by patients with the stimulator after 6 minutes of walking increased significantly from 217 m to 321 m and remained stable for 1 year; the distance covered by patients after surface stimulation was 264 m. Patients with an implanted ActiGait stimulator noticed pronounced improvement in their mobility, social participation, and quality of life.


The ActiGait implantable drop foot stimulator improved gait speed, endurance, and quality of life in all patients over a period of 1 year. It may serve as a new therapeutic option for patients with MS-related drop foot.

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Stephan B. Sobottka, Tobias Meyer, Matthias Kirsch, Edmund Koch, Ralf Steinmeier, Ute Morgenstern and Gabriele Schackert


Intraoperative optical imaging (IOI) is an experimental technique used for visualizing functional brain areas after surgical exposure of the cerebral cortex. This technique identifies areas of local changes in blood volume and oxygenation caused by stimulation of specific brain functions. The authors describe a new IOI method, including innovative data analysis, that can facilitate intraoperative functional imaging on a routine basis. To evaluate the reliability and validity of this approach, they used the new IOI method to demonstrate visualization of the median nerve area of the somatosensory cortex.


In 41 patients with tumor lesions adjacent to the postcentral gyrus, lesions were surgically removed by using IOI during stimulation of the contralateral median nerve. Optical properties of the cortical tissue were measured with a sensitive camera system connected to a surgical microscope. Imaging was performed by using 9 cycles of alternating prolonged stimulation and rest periods of 30 seconds. Intraoperative optical imaging was based on blood volume changes detected by using a filter at an isosbestic wavelength (λ = 568 nm). A spectral analysis algorithm was used to improve computation of the activity maps. Movement artifacts were compensated for by an elastic registration algorithm. For validation, intraoperative conduction of the phase reversal over the central sulcus and postoperative evaluation of the craniotomy site were used.


The new method and analysis enabled significant differentiation (p < 0.005) between functional and nonfunctional tissue. The identification and visualization of functionally intact somatosensory cortex was highly reliable; sensitivity was 94.4% and specificity was almost 100%. The surgeon was provided with a 2D high-resolution activity map within 12 minutes. No method-related side effects occurred in any of the 41 patients.


The authors' new approach makes IOI a contact-free and label-free optical technique that can be used safely in a routine clinical setup. Intraoperative optical imaging can be used as an alternative to other methods for the identification of sensory cortex areas and offers the added benefit of a high-resolution map of functional activity. It has great potential for visualizing and monitoring additional specific functional brain areas such as the visual, motor, and speech cortex. A prospective national multicenter clinical trial is currently being planned.

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Amir Zolal, Stephan B. Sobottka, Dino Podlesek, Jennifer Linn, Bernhard Rieger, Tareq A. Juratli, Gabriele Schackert and Hagen H. Kitzler


The depiction of cranial nerves (CNs) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is of great interest in skull base tumor surgery and DTI used with deterministic tracking methods has been reported previously. However, there are still no good methods usable for the elimination of noise from the resulting depictions. The authors have hypothesized that probabilistic tracking could lead to more accurate results, because it more efficiently extracts information from the underlying data. Moreover, the authors have adapted a previously described technique for noise elimination using gradual threshold increases to probabilistic tracking. To evaluate the utility of this new approach, a comparison is provided with this work between the gradual threshold increase method in probabilistic and deterministic tracking of CNs.


Both tracking methods were used to depict CNs II, III, V, and the VII+VIII bundle. Depiction of 240 CNs was attempted with each of the above methods in 30 healthy subjects, which were obtained from 2 public databases: the Kirby repository (KR) and Human Connectome Project (HCP). Elimination of erroneous fibers was attempted by gradually increasing the respective thresholds (fractional anisotropy [FA] and probabilistic index of connectivity [PICo]). The results were compared with predefined ground truth images based on corresponding anatomical scans. Two label overlap measures (false-positive error and Dice similarity coefficient) were used to evaluate the success of both methods in depicting the CN. Moreover, the differences between these parameters obtained from the KR and HCP (with higher angular resolution) databases were evaluated. Additionally, visualization of 10 CNs in 5 clinical cases was attempted with both methods and evaluated by comparing the depictions with intraoperative findings.


Maximum Dice similarity coefficients were significantly higher with probabilistic tracking (p < 0.001; Wilcoxon signed-rank test). The false-positive error of the last obtained depiction was also significantly lower in probabilistic than in deterministic tracking (p < 0.001). The HCP data yielded significantly better results in terms of the Dice coefficient in probabilistic tracking (p < 0.001, Mann-Whitney U-test) and in deterministic tracking (p = 0.02). The false-positive errors were smaller in HCP data in deterministic tracking (p < 0.001) and showed a strong trend toward significance in probabilistic tracking (p = 0.06). In the clinical cases, the probabilistic method visualized 7 of 10 attempted CNs accurately, compared with 3 correct depictions with deterministic tracking.


High angular resolution DTI scans are preferable for the DTI-based depiction of the cranial nerves. Probabilistic tracking with a gradual PICo threshold increase is more effective for this task than the previously described deterministic tracking with a gradual FA threshold increase and might represent a method that is useful for depicting cranial nerves with DTI since it eliminates the erroneous fibers without manual intervention.

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Martin Oelschlägel, Tobias Meyer, Ute Morgenstern, Hannes Wahl, Johannes Gerber, Gilfe Reiß, Edmund Koch, Gerald Steiner, Matthias Kirsch, Gabriele Schackert and Stephan B. Sobottka

Intraoperative optical imaging (IOI) is a marker-free, contactless, and noninvasive imaging technique that is able to visualize metabolic changes of the brain surface following neuronal activation. Although it has been used in the past mainly for the identification of functional brain areas under general anesthesia, the authors investigated the potential of the method during awake surgery. Measurements were performed in 10 patients who underwent resection of lesions within or adjacent to cortical language or motor sites. IOI was applied in 3 different scenarios: identification of motor areas by using finger-tapping tasks, identification of language areas by using speech tasks (overt and silent speech), and a novel approach—the application of IOI as a feedback tool during direct electrical stimulation (DES) mapping of language. The functional maps, which were calculated from the IOI data (activity maps), were qualitatively compared with the functional MRI (fMRI) and the electrophysiological testing results during the surgical procedure to assess their potential benefit for surgical decision-making.

The results reveal that the intraoperative identification of motor sites with IOI in good agreement with the preoperatively acquired fMRI and the intraoperative electrophysiological measurements is possible. Because IOI provides spatially highly resolved maps with minimal additional hardware effort, the application of the technique for motor site identification seems to be beneficial in awake procedures. The identification of language processing sites with IOI was also possible, but in the majority of cases significant differences between fMRI, IOI, and DES were visible, and therefore according to the authors’ findings the IOI results are too unspecific to be useful for intraoperative decision-making with respect to exact language localization. For this purpose, DES mapping will remain the method of choice.

Nevertheless, the IOI technique can provide additional value during the language mapping procedure with DES. Using a simple difference imaging approach, the authors were able to visualize and calculate the spatial extent of activation for each stimulation. This might enable surgeons in the future to optimize the mapping process. Additionally, differences between tumor and nontumor stimulation sites were observed with respect to the spatial extent of the changes in cortical optical properties. These findings provide further evidence that the method allows the assessment of the functional state of neurovascular coupling and is therefore suited for the delineation of pathologically altered tissue.