Deep brain stimulation is a treatment for Parkinson's disease and other related disorders, involving the surgical placement of electrodes in the deeply situated basal ganglia or thalamic structures. Good clinical outcome requires accurate targeting. However, due to limited visibility of the target structures on routine clinical MR images, direct targeting of structures can be challenging. Non-clinical MR scanners with ultra-high magnetic field (7T or higher) have the potential to improve the quality of these images. This technology report provides an overview of the current possibilities of visualizing deep brain stimulation targets and their related structures with the aid of ultra-high field MRI. Reviewed studies showed improved resolution, contrast- and signal-to-noise ratios at ultra-high field. Sequences sensitive to magnetic susceptibility such as T2(*) and susceptibility weighted imaging and their maps in general showed the best visualization of target structures, including a separation between the subthalamic nucleus and the substantia nigra, the lamina pallidi medialis and lamina pallidi incompleta within the globus pallidus and substructures of the thalamus, including the ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim). This shows that the visibility, identification, and even subdivision of the small deep brain stimulation targets benefit from increased field strength. Although ultra-high field MR imaging is associated with increased risk of geometrical distortions, it has been shown that these distortions can be avoided or corrected to the extent where the effects are limited. The availability of ultra-high field MR scanners for humans seems to provide opportunities for a more accurate targeting for deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease and related disorders.
Keywords: basal ganglia; deep brain stimulation; magnetic resonance imaging; thalamus; ultra-high field.