Update on neurosurgical treatment of chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias and atypical facial pain with deep brain stimulation of posterior hypothalamus: results and comments
The objective of this study is to describe the therapeutic effect and the technical and surgical problems of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus over seven years, for treatment of chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias and atypical facial pain. We report a surgical series of 20 patients that underwent DBS of the posterior hypothalamus. This series includes 16 patients with chronic cluster headache (CH), one patient with short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT) and three patients with atypical facial pain. All patients of this series were resistant to any pharmacological and conservative treatment. The stimulated target was the same in the whole series even though stereotactic coordinates of the target referred to the midcommissural point differ slight in the Y anteroposterior value due to individual anatomical variability. The commissures based reference system was adapted to individual anatomical landmarks of the brainstem adding to the registration a third reference point below the commissural plane. The stimulation parameters of unipolar stimulation were similar in the whole series: 180 Hz, 60 μs, 1–3 V. In the CH series, at five years follow-up the percentage of total number of days free from pain attacks improved from 1%–2% to 71%. Ten patients of this series had a complete and persistent pain-free state at 18 months follow-up and the patient with SUNCT has complete pain relief. In the three patients with atypical facial pain, the neurostimulation procedure was absolutely unsuccessful. DBS of the posterior hypothalamus produced a significant and marked reduction of pain bouts in CH patients and in the SUNCT patient. The attempts to treat atypical facial pain in three patients failed.