Comparison of pallidal and subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for advanced Parkinson's disease: results of a randomized, blinded pilot study

Neurosurgery. 1999 Dec;45(6):1375-82; discussion 1382-4. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199912000-00024.


Objective: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the globus pallidus internus (GPi) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) has been reported to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of advanced Parkinson's disease (PD). Although recent studies suggest that STN stimulation may be superior to GPi stimulation, a randomized, blinded comparison has not been reported. The present study was designed to provide a preliminary comparison of the safety and efficacy of DBS at either site.

Methods: Ten patients with idiopathic PD, L-dopa-induced dyskinesia, and response fluctuations were randomized to implantation of bilateral GPi or STN stimulators. Neurological condition was assessed preoperatively with patients on and off L-dopa and on DBS at 10 days and 3, 6, and 12 months after implantation. Patients and evaluating clinicians were blinded to stimulation site throughout the study period. Complete follow-up data were analyzed for four GPi patients and five STN patients.

Results: When off-L-dopa, both GPi and STN groups demonstrated a similar response, with approximately 40% improvement in Unified PD Rating Scale motor scores after 12 months of DBS. Rigidity, tremor, and bradykinesia improved in both groups. In combination with L-dopa, Unified PD Rating Scale motor scores were more improved by GPi stimulation than by STN stimulation. On-L-dopa axial symptoms were clinically improved in the GPi but not the STN group. L-Dopa-induced dyskinesia was reduced by DBS at either site, although medication requirement was reduced only in the STN group. There were no serious intraoperative complications among patients in either group.

Conclusion: Pallidal and STN stimulation appears to be safe and efficacious for the management of advanced PD. A larger study is needed to investigate further the differences in symptom response and the interaction of L-dopa with stimulation at either site.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dyskinesia, Drug-Induced / physiopathology
  • Dyskinesia, Drug-Induced / therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Globus Pallidus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / administration & dosage
  • Levodopa / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Levodopa