Deep Brain Stimulation of Caudal Zona Incerta for Parkinson's Disease: One-Year Follow-Up and Electric Field Simulations

Neuromodulation. 2022 Aug;25(6):935-944. doi: 10.1111/ner.13500. Epub 2022 Feb 2.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of bilateral caudal zona incerta (cZi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease (PD) one year after surgery and to create anatomical improvement maps based on patient-specific simulation of the electric field.

Materials and methods: We report the one-year results of bilateral cZi-DBS in 15 patients with PD. Patients were evaluated on/off medication and stimulation using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Main outcomes were changes in motor symptoms (UPDRS-III) and quality of life according to Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39). Secondary outcomes included efficacy profile according to sub-items of UPDRS-III and simulation of the electric field distribution around the DBS lead using the finite element method. Simulations from all patients were transformed to one common magnetic resonance imaging template space for the creation of improvement maps and anatomical evaluation.

Results: Median UPDRS-III score off medication improved from 40 at baseline to 21 on stimulation at one-year follow-up (48%, p < 0.0005). PDQ-39 summary index did not change, but the subdomain activities of daily living (ADL) and stigma improved (25%, p < 0.03 and 75%, p < 0.01), whereas communication worsened (p < 0.03). For UPDRS-III sub-items, stimulation alone reduced median tremor score by 9 points, akinesia by 3, and rigidity by 2 points at one-year follow-up in comparison to baseline (90%, 25%, and 29%, respectively, p < 0.01). Visual analysis of the anatomical improvement maps based on simulated electrical fields showed no evident relation with the degree of symptom improvement and neither did statistical analysis show any significant correlation.

Conclusions: Bilateral cZi-DBS alleviates motor symptoms, especially tremor, and improves ADL and stigma in PD patients one year after surgery. Improvement maps may be a useful tool for visualizing the spread of the electric field. However, there was no clear-cut relation between anatomical location of the electric field and the degree of symptom relief.

Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; Parkinson's disease; electric field simulation; improvement maps; quality of life; zona incerta.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / methods
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tremor / therapy
  • Zona Incerta*