Background: Although the short-term benefits of posteroventral pallidotomy for patients with advanced Parkinson's disease have been well documented, little is known about the long-term outcome of the procedure.
Methods: We conducted a long-term follow-up study of a cohort of 40 patients who had undergone unilateral posteroventral medial pallidotomy between 1993 and 1996. Twenty patients were not evaluated because they had undergone a second surgical procedure (11 patients) or had died (2) or because they had dementia or another debilitating illness (4), lived too far away (1), or had been lost to follow-up (2). We conducted serial postoperative assessments of parkinsonism in the remaining 20 patients while they were taking medications ("on" period) and after overnight withdrawal of the drugs ("off" period). The mean follow-up time was 52 months (range, 41 to 64).
Results: The combined off-period score for activities of daily living and motor function on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale was 18.0 percent better at the last evaluation than at base line (95 percent confidence interval, 4.9 to 31.0 percent; P=0.01). Significant improvements were also evident in the off-period scores for contralateral tremor (65.4 percent improvement, P=0.007), rigidity (43.2 percent, P=0.03), and bradykinesia (18.2 percent, P=0.04) and in the on-period score for contralateral dyskinesia (70.6 percent, P<0.001). Changes in medication did not contribute to the sustained improvement. The 20 patients who could not be included in the long-term analysis had similar base-line characteristics but a worse response to surgery at six months.
Conclusions: In the group of patients with advanced Parkinson's disease who could be enrolled in our long-term follow-up study of unilateral posteroventral medial pallidotomy (20 patients from the original cohort of 40), significant early improvements in off-period contralateral signs of parkinsonism were sustained for up to five and a half years. There was a sustained significant improvement in on-period contralateral dyskinesia but not in other on-period signs of parkinsonism.