Background Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) improves motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, leading to improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). However, an excessive decrease in dopaminergic medication can lead to a withdrawal syndrome with apathy as the predominant feature. The present study aims to assess the impact of postoperative apathy on HRQoL.
Methods A cohort of 88 patients who underwent STN-DBS was divided into two groups, those who were apathetic at 1 year and those who were not, as measured by the Starkstein scale. HRQoL was assessed using the Parkinson's disease questionnaire 39 (PDQ-39) and was compared between the two groups. We also compared activities of daily living, motor improvement and motor complications (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, UPDRS), depression and anxiety, as well as cognition and drug dosages. Baseline characteristics and postoperative complications were recorded.
Results One year after surgery, 27.1% of patients suffered from apathy. While motor improvement was significant and equivalent in both the apathy (−40.4% of UPDRS motor score) and non-apathy groups (−48.6%), the PDQ-39 score did not improve in the apathy group (−5.5%; p=0.464), whereas it improved significantly (−36.7%; p≤0.001) in the non-apathy group. Change in apathy scores correlated significantly with change in HRQoL scores (r=0.278, p=0.009). Depression and anxiety scores remained unchanged from baseline in the apathy group (p=0.409, p=0.075), while they improved significantly in patients without apathy (p=0.006, p≤0.001). A significant correlation was found between changes in apathy and depression (r=0.594, p≤0.001).
Conclusions The development of apathy after STN-DBS can cancel out the benefits of motor improvement in terms of HRQoL. Systematic evaluation and management of apathy occurring after subthalamic stimulation appears mandatory.
- PARKINSON'S DISEASE
- QUALITY OF LIFE