Invasive Motor Cortex Stimulation Influences Intracerebral Structures in Patients With Neuropathic Pain: An Activation Likelihood Estimation Meta-Analysis of Imaging Data

Neuromodulation. 2020 Jun;23(4):436-443. doi: 10.1111/ner.13119. Epub 2020 Feb 6.


Objective: Invasive motor cortex stimulation (iMCS) has been proposed as a treatment for intractable neuropathic pain syndromes. Although the mechanisms underlying the analgesic effect of iMCS remain largely elusive, several studies found iMCS-related changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in neuropathic pain patients. The aim of this study was to meta-analyze the findings of neuroimaging studies on rCBF changes to iMCS.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched for retrieval of relevant scientific papers. After initial assessment of relevancy by screening title and abstract by two investigators, independently, predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria were used for final inclusion of papers. Descriptive results were statistically assessed, whereas coordinates were pooled and meta-analyzed in accordance with the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) methodology.

Results: Six studies were included in the systematic narrative analysis, suggesting rCBF increases in the cingulate gyrus, thalamus, insula, and putamen after switching the MCS device "ON" as compared to the "OFF" situation. Decreases in rCBF were found in for example the precentral gyrus and different occipital regions. Two studies did not report stereotactic coordinates and were excluded from further analysis. ALE meta-analysis showed that, after switching the iMCS electrode "ON," increased rCBF occurred in the (1) anterior cingulate gyrus; (2) putamen; (3) cerebral peduncle; (4) precentral gyrus; (5) superior frontal gyrus; (6) red nucleus; (7) internal part of the globus pallidus; (8) ventral lateral nucleus of the thalamus; (9) medial frontal gyrus; (10) inferior frontal gyrus; and (11) claustrum, as compared to the "OFF" situation. Reductions in rCBF were found in the posterior cingulate gyrus when the iMCS electrode was turned "OFF."

Conclusions: These findings suggested that iMCS induces changes in principal components of the default mode-, the salience-, and sensorimotor network.

Keywords: Cerebral blood flow; chronic neuropathic pain; efficacy; meta-analysis; motor cortex stimulation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Motor Cortex / blood supply*
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Neuralgia / therapy*