Placebo-controlled pilot study of centromedian thalamic stimulation in treatment of intractable seizures

Epilepsia. Sep-Oct 1992;33(5):841-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1992.tb02192.x.


Stimulation of centromedian (CM) thalamic nuclei has been proposed as a treatment for seizures. We implanted programmable subcutaneous (s.c.) stimulators into CM bilaterally in 7 patients with intractable epilepsy to test feasibility and safety. Stimulation was on or off in 3-month blocks, with a 3-month washout period in a double-blind, cross-over protocol. Stimuli were delivered as 90-microseconds pulses at 65 pulses/s, 1 min of each 5 min for 2 h/day, with voltage set to half the sensory threshold. Stimulation was safe and well-tolerated, with a mean reduction of tonic-clonic seizure frequency of 30% with respect to baseline when stimulator was on versus a decrease of 8% when the stimulator was off. There was no improvement in total number of generalized seizures with stimulation, and treatment differences were not statistically significant. Stimulation at low intensity did not alter the EEG acutely, but high-intensity stimulation induced slow waves or 2-3 Hz spike-waves with ipsilateral frontal maximum. In an open-label follow-up segment with stimulator trains continuing for 24 h/day, 3 of 6 patients reported at least a 50% decrease in seizure frequency. There were no side effects. This pilot project demonstrated the feasibility of controlled study of thalamic stimulation in epilepsy, but further study will be needed to demonstrate efficacy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Placebos
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*


  • Placebos