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MRI directed bilateral stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus in patients with Parkinson’s disease
  1. N K Patel,
  2. P Plaha,
  3. K O’Sullivan,
  4. R McCarter,
  5. P Heywood,
  6. S S Gill
  1. Institute of Neurosciences, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S S Gill
 Consultant Neuroarsurgeon, Department of Neurosurgery, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol BS16 1LE, UK;


Objective: Bilateral chronic high frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) has emerged as an appropriate therapy for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease refractory to medical therapy. Advances in neuroimaging and neurophysiology have led to the development of varied targeting methods for the delivery of this treatment. Intraoperative neurophysiological and clinical monitoring is regarded by many to be mandatory for accurate STN localisation. We have examined efficacy of bilateral STN stimulation using a predominantly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-directed technique.

Methods: DBS leads were stereotactically implanted into the STN using an MRI directed method, with intraoperative macrostimulation used purely for adjustment. The effects of DBS were evaluated in 16 patients followed up to 12 months, and compared with baseline assessments. Assessments were performed in both off and on medication states, and were based on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and timed motor tests. Functional status outcomes were examined using the PDQ-39 quality of life questionnaire. A battery of psychometric tests was used to assess cognition.

Results: After 12 months, stimulation in the off medication state resulted in significant improvements in Activities of Daily Living and Motor scores (UPDRS parts II and III) by 62% and 61% respectively. Timed motor tests were significantly improved in the off medication state. Motor scores (UPDRS part III) were significantly improved by 40% in the on medication state. Dyskinesias and off duration were significantly reduced and the mean dose of l-dopa equivalents was reduced by half. Psychometric test scores were mostly unchanged or improved. Adverse events were few.

Conclusions: An MRI directed targeting method for implantation of DBS leads into the STN can be used safely and effectively, and results are comparable with studies using intraoperative microelectrode neurophysiological targeting. In addition, our method was associated with an efficient use of operating time, and without the necessary costs of microelectrode recording.

  • subthalamic nucleus
  • MRI
  • deep brain stimulation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • cognition
  • DBS, deep brain stimulation
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • PD, Parkinson’s disease
  • PDQ-39, 39-item Parkinson’s disease quality of life questionnaire
  • STN, subthalamic nucleus

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  • Competing interest: None declared