Responsive cortical stimulation for the treatment of medically intractable partial epilepsy

Neurology. 2011 Sep 27;77(13):1295-304. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182302056. Epub 2011 Sep 14.


Objectives: This multicenter, double-blind, randomized controlled trial assessed the safety and effectiveness of responsive cortical stimulation as an adjunctive therapy for partial onset seizures in adults with medically refractory epilepsy.

Methods: A total of 191 adults with medically intractable partial epilepsy were implanted with a responsive neurostimulator connected to depth or subdural leads placed at 1 or 2 predetermined seizure foci. The neurostimulator was programmed to detect abnormal electrocorticographic activity. One month after implantation, subjects were randomized 1:1 to receive stimulation in response to detections (treatment) or to receive no stimulation (sham). Efficacy and safety were assessed over a 12-week blinded period and a subsequent 84-week open-label period during which all subjects received responsive stimulation.

Results: Seizures were significantly reduced in the treatment (-37.9%, n = 97) compared to the sham group (-17.3%, n = 94; p = 0.012) during the blinded period and there was no difference between the treatment and sham groups in adverse events. During the open-label period, the seizure reduction was sustained in the treatment group and seizures were significantly reduced in the sham group when stimulation began. There were significant improvements in overall quality of life (p < 0.02) and no deterioration in mood or neuropsychological function.

Conclusions: Responsive cortical stimulation reduces the frequency of disabling partial seizures, is associated with improvements in quality of life, and is well-tolerated with no mood or cognitive effects. Responsive stimulation may provide another adjunctive treatment option for adults with medically intractable partial seizures.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that responsive cortical stimulation is effective in significantly reducing seizure frequency for 12 weeks in adults who have failed 2 or more antiepileptic medication trials, 3 or more seizures per month, and 1 or 2 seizure foci.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / complications
  • Epilepsies, Partial / psychology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants