Object: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used for treating various types of dystonia. Multiple electrodes could be proposed to improve the therapeutic outcome enabling the targeting of specific neuronal populations not reached by the electrical field generated by the initially implanted electrode. The authors address the question of the feasibility and safety of staged multiple lead implantations in the sensorimotor internal globus pallidus (GPi) in primary generalized dystonia (PGD). Criteria for patient selection, surgical technique, target selection, electrical settings management, and clinical outcome are presented.
Methods: Sixteen patients (8 harbored the DYT1 gene mutation) presented with PGD and were enrolled in this study. Patients underwent clinical assessment using the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale preoperatively and during follow-up with DBS. Prior to the addition of electrodes, the authors confirmed, by turning off stimulation, that the patient was still benefiting from DBS and that DBS settings adjustment did not provide further improvement. The second target was defined according to the position of the first electrode, to the residual volume within the sensorimotor GPi, and according to residual symptoms. The second surgery followed the same protocol as the first and the new electrode were inserted using the same bur hole as the first electrode.
Results: The addition of a new pair of electrodes was followed by significant improvement in the whole population (p = 0.005), as well as in the DYT1-negative subgroup (p = 0.012) but not in the DYT1 subgroup (p = not significant). Nevertheless, some patients did not exhibit significant additional benefit. Seven hardware-related complications occurred during the entire follow-up, 3 prior to it, and 4 after the addition of the second pair of electrodes.
Conclusions: The addition of a second pair of electrodes in the GPi in patients with PGD with suboptimal or decaying benefit following the first surgery seems to be a safe procedure and is not followed by an increase in surgery-related complications. This staged procedure may provide further clinical improvement in patients with PGD in whom DBS effect is initially incomplete or when disease progression occurs over time. The position of the additional electrode within the GPi is determined by the available volume within the posteroventral GPi and by the distribution of the dystonic symptoms that need to be controlled.