Seizure frequency reduction after posteromedial hypothalamus deep brain stimulation in drug-resistant epilepsy associated with intractable aggressive behavior

Epilepsia. 2015 Jul;56(7):1152-61. doi: 10.1111/epi.13025. Epub 2015 Jul 4.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posteromedial hypothalamus (pHyp) on seizure frequency in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) associated with intractable aggressive behavior (IAB).

Methods: Data were collected retrospectively from nine patients, who received bilateral stereotactic pHyp-DBS for the treatment of medically intractable aggressive behavior, focusing on five patients who also had DRE. All patients were treated at the Colombian Center and Foundation of Epilepsy and Neurological Diseases-FIRE (Chapter of the International Bureau for Epilepsy), in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia from 2010 to 2014. Each case was evaluated previously by the institutional ethical committee, assessing the impact of aggressive behavior on the patient's family and social life, the humanitarian aspects of preserving the safety and physical integrity of caregivers, and the need to prevent self-harm. Epilepsy improvement was measured by a monthly seizure reduction percentage, comparing preoperative state and outcome. Additional response to epilepsy was defined by reduction of the antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Aggressive behavior response was measured using the Overt Aggression Scale (OAS).

Results: All the patients with DRE associated with IAB presented a significant decrease of the rate of epileptic seizures after up to 4 years follow-up, achieving a general 89.6% average seizure reduction from the state before the surgery. Aggressiveness was significantly controlled, with evident improvement in the OAS, enhancing the quality of life of patients and families.

Significance: In well-selected patients, DBS of the pHyp seems to be a safe and effective procedure for treatment of DRE associated with refractory aggressive behavior. Larger and prospective series are needed to define the pHyp as a target for DRE in different contexts.

Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Drug-resistant epilepsy; International Bureau for Epilepsy; International League Against Epilepsy; Overt aggression scale; Posterior hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / trends
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus, Middle / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / complications
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult