Chronic high frequency stimulation of the posteromedial hypothalamus in facial pain syndromes and behaviour disorders

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;97(Pt 2):399-406. doi: 10.1007/978-3-211-33081-4_45.


Chronic high frequency stimulation (HFS) of the posteromedial hypothalamus (PMH) has been the first direct therapeutic application of functional neuroimaging data in a restorative reversible procedure for the treatment of an otherwise refractory neurological condition; in fact, the target coordinates for the stereotactic implantation of the electrodes have been provided by positron emission tomography (PET) studies, which were performed during cluster headache attacks. HFS of PMH produced a significant and marked reduction of pain attacks in patients with chronic cluster headache (CCH) and in one patient with short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT). The episodes of violent behaviour and psychomotor agitation during the attacks of CCH supported the idea that the posteromedial hypothalamus could be also involved in the control of aggressiveness; this has been previously suggested, in the seventies, by the results obtained in Sano's hypothalamotomies for the treatment of abnormal aggression and disruptive behaviour. On the basis of these considerations, we have performed HFS of the PMH and controlled successfully violent and disruptive behaviour in patients refractory to the conventional sedative drugs. Finally, we also tested the same procedure in three patients with refractory atypical facial pain, but unfortunately, they did not respond to this treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Symptoms / pathology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / surgery*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Facial Neuralgia / pathology
  • Facial Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Facial Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / physiopathology
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SUNCT Syndrome / pathology
  • SUNCT Syndrome / physiopathology
  • SUNCT Syndrome / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome