Responsive neurostimulation of the thalamus improves seizure control in idiopathic generalised epilepsy: initial case series

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2022 May;93(5):491-498. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2021-327512. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Objectives: Up to 40% of patients with idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) are drug resistant and potentially could benefit from intracranial neuromodulation of the seizure circuit. We present outcomes following 2 years of thalamic-responsive neurostimulation for IGE.

Methods: Four patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy underwent RNS System implantation in the bilateral centromedian (CM) nucleus region. Electrophysiological data were extracted from the clinical patient data management system and analysed using a specialised platform (BRAINStim). Postoperative visualisation of electrode locations was performed using Lead-DBS. Seizure outcomes were reported using the Engel scale.

Results: Patients experienced a 75%-99% reduction in seizure frequency with decreased seizure duration and severity (Engel class IB, IC, IIA and IIIA), as well as significant improvements in quality of life. Outcomes were durable through at least 2 years of therapy. Detection accuracy for all patients overall decreased over successive programming epochs from a mean of 96.5% to 88.3%. Most electrodes used to deliver stimulation were located in the CM (7/10) followed by the posterior dorsal ventral lateral (2/2), posterior ventral posterior lateral (3/4) and posterior ventral ventral lateral (2/3). In all patients, stimulation varied from 0.2 to 2.0 mA and amplitude only increased over successive epochs. The raw percentage of intracranial electroencephalography recordings with stimulations delivered to electrographic seizures was 24.8%, 1.2%, 7.6% and 8.8%.

Conclusion: Closed-loop stimulation of the CM region may provide significant improvement in seizure control and quality of life for patients with drug-resistant IGE. Optimal detection and stimulation locations and parameters remain an active area of investigation for accelerating and fine-tuning clinical responses.

Keywords: electrical stimulation; epilepsy; neurosurgery; surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / therapy
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Epilepsy, Generalized
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei*
  • Quality of Life
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunoglobulin E

Supplementary concepts

  • Epilepsy, Idiopathic Generalized