Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus: Anatomical, neurophysiological, and outcome correlations with the effects of stimulation

  • Lanotte M
  • Rizzone M
  • Bergamasco B
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVES: Bilateral chronic high frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN), through the stereotactical placement of stimulating electrodes, effectively improves the motor symptoms of severe Parkinson's disease. Intraoperative neurophysiological and clinical monitoring techniques (neuronal electrical activity recording and intraoperative stimulation) may improve and refine the localisation of the nucleus. The objective of this work was to compare the preoperative CT and MRI localisation with the intraoperative neurophysiological identification of STN. The relation between the localisation of the STN and the position of the most effective contact of the permanent quadripolar electrode at a 3 month and 1 year follow up was also studied.

METHODS: Fourteen consecutive parkinsonian patients were submitted to bilateral implant for STN stimulation. All the patients underwent a standard MRI and stereotactic CT to obtain, by image fusion and localisation software, the stereotactical coordinates of STN. The STN extension and boundaries were identified by a semimicrorecording of the neuronal electrical activity. The definitive quadripolar electrode was positioned to locate at least two contacts within the STN recording area. Intraoperative macrostimulation was performed to confirm the correct position of the electrode. Postoperative clinical evaluation of the effects of stimulation was checked for each contact of the quadripolar electrode testing the improvement on contralateral rigidity to select the best contact. This evaluation was repeated at 3 months and 1 year after surgery.

RESULTS: In 35.7% of the procedures it was necessary to perform more than one track to get a recording of neuronal activity consistent with STN. The mean position of the central point of all the 28 STN recording areas in respect of the AC-PC line midpoint was 2.7 mm posterior (SD 0.7), 3.8 mm inferior (SD 1.1), and 11.6 mm lateral (SD 0.9), and the mean distance between the anatomical target and the central point of the STN as defined by intraoperative recording was 0.5 mm (SD 0.5) on the anteroposterior plane, 0.7 mm (SD 0.7) on the lateral plane, and 0.9 mm (SD 0.6) on the vertical plane. At 1 year the mean position of the central point of the most effective contact of the electrode in respect of the AC-PC line midpoint was 1.7 mm posterior (SD 0.9), 1.7 mm inferior (SD 1.5), and 12.3 mm lateral (SD 0.9).

CONCLUSION: The results highlight the role of the intraoperative recording to get a more accurate localisation of the STN in surgery for Parkinson's disease, allowing the identification of the boundaries and of the extension of the nucleus. The most effective contact of the quadripolar electrode was always in the upper part of the STN recording area or immediately above it, suggesting a role of this region in the clinical effectiveness of the STN electrical stimulation.

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