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Jason M. Schwalb, Howard A. Riina, Brett Skolnick, Jurg L. Jaggi, Tanya Simuni and Gordon H. Baltuch

✓ The treatment of essential tremor with thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) is considered to be more effective and to cause less morbidity than treatment with thalamotomy. Nonetheless, implantation of an indwelling electrode, connectors, and a generator is associated with specific types of morbidity. The authors describe three patients who required revision of their DBS systems due to lead breakage. The connector between the DBS electrode and the extension wire, which connects to the subclavicular pulse generator, was originally placed subcutaneously in the cervical region to decrease the risk of erosion through the scalp and to improve cosmesis. Three patients presented with fractured DBS electrodes that were located in the cervical region near the connector, necessitating reoperation with stereotactic retargeting and placement of a new intracranial electrode. At reoperation, the connectors were placed subgaleally over the parietal region.

Management of these cases has led to modifications in the operative procedure designed to improve the durability of DBS systems. The authors recommend that surgeons avoid placing the connection between the DBS electrode and the extension wire in the cervical region because patient movement can cause microfractures in the electrode. Such microfractures require intracranial revision, which may be associated with a higher risk of morbidity than the initial operation. The authors also recommend considering prophylactic relocation of the connectors from the cervical area to the subgaleal parietal region to decrease the risk of future DBS electrode fracture, which would necessitate a more lengthy procedure to revise the intracranial electrode.

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Albert E. Telfeian, John A. Boockvar, Tanya Simuni, Jurg Jaggi, Brett Skolnick and Gordon H. Baltuch

✓ Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventralis intermedius nucleus (Vim) is a safe and effective treatment for essential tremor. Bipolar disorder and essential tremor had each been reported to occur in association with Klinefelter syndrome but the three diseases have been reported to occur together in only one patient. The genetic basis and natural history of these disorders are not completely understood and may be related rather than coincidental. The authors report on a 23-year-old man with Klinefelter syndrome (47,XXY) and bipolar disorder who was treated successfully with unilateral DBS of the thalamic Vim for essential tremor.

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Tanya Simuni, Jurg L. Jaggi, Heather Mulholland, Howard I. Hurtig, Amy Colcher, Andrew D. Siderowf, Bernard Ravina, Brett E. Skolnick, Reid Goldstein, Matthew B. Stern and Gordon H. Baltuch

Object. Palliative neurosurgery has reemerged as a valid therapy for patients with advanced Parkinson disease (PD) that is complicated by severe motor fluctuations. Despite great enthusiasm for long-term deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN), existing reports on this treatment are limited. The present study was designed to investigate the safety and efficacy of bilateral stimulation of the STN for the treatment of PD.

Methods. In 12 patients with severe PD, electrodes were stereotactically implanted into the STN with the assistance of electrophysiological conformation of the target location. All patients were evaluated preoperatively during both medication-off and -on conditions, as well as postoperatively at 3, 6, and 12 months during medication-on and -off states and stimulation-on and -off conditions. Tests included assessments based on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and timed motor tests.

The stimulation effect was significant in patients who were in the medication-off state, resulting in a 47% improvement in the UPDRS Part III (Motor Examination) score at 12 months, compared with preoperative status. The benefit was stable for the duration of the follow-up period. Stimulation produced no additional benefit during the medication-on state, however, when compared with patient preoperative status. Significant improvements were made in reducing dyskinesias, fluctuations, and duration of off periods.

Conclusions. This study demonstrates that DBS of the STN is an effective treatment for patients with advanced, medication-refractory PD. Deep brain stimulation of the STN produced robust improvements in motor performance in these severely disabled patients while they were in the medication-off state. Serious adverse events were common in this cohort; however, only two patients suffered permanent sequelae.

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John A. Boockvar, Albert Telfeian, Gordon H. Baltuch, Brett Skolnick, Tanya Simuni, Matthew Stern, Marie L. Schmidt and John Q. Trojanowski

✓ Essential tremor can be suppressed with chronic, bilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventralis intermedius nucleus (Vim), the cerebellar receiving area of the motor thalamus. The goal in this study was to correlate the location of the electrodes with the clinical efficacy of DBS in a patient with essential tremor. The authors report on a woman with essential tremor in whom chronic bilateral DBS directed to the ventral thalamus produced adequate tremor suppression until her death from unrelated causes 16 months after placement of the electrodes. Neuropathological postmortem studies of the brain in this patient demonstrated that both stimulators terminated in the Vim region of the thalamus, and that chronic DBS elicited minor reactive changes confined to the immediate vicinity of the electrode tracks. Although the authors could not identify neuropathological abnormalities specific to essential tremor, they believe that suppression of essential tremor by chronic DBS correlates with bilateral termination of the stimulators in the Vim region of the thalamus.