Outcome of deep brain stimulation in slowly progressive multiple system atrophy: A clinico-pathological series and review of the literature

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016 Mar:24:69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Jan 7.


Objectives: To highlight the risk of clinical worsening after deep brain stimulation in histologically proven multiple system atrophy (MSA) patients presenting slow and relatively benign disease progression mimicking Parkinson's disease (PD). In such cases but also in more typical MSA patients, the results of deep brain stimulation have been mostly reported as case reports and small patient series.

Methods: The present study describes the outcome of the largest series of histologically proven MSA patients who underwent deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus because they were considered as having PD at the time of surgery.

Results: Three patients showed significant improvement of motor signs after surgery while two did not. Clinical improvement was short-lasting and rapidly followed by the occurrence of disabling manifestations of MSA that counteracted DBS benefits.

Conclusions: Together with previous reports, our study demonstrates that DBS should not be recommended for MSA patients. It also underlines that detecting subtle red flags is crucial to avoid DBS surgery in this population.

Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Multiple system atrophy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / therapy*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome