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Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease: how to select candidates for pallidal or subthalamic stimulation


Chronic deep brain stimulation therapy has the reversibility, selectivity and adjustability needed to achieve an adequate effect, so that it represents an ideal tool for functional neurosurgery designed to treat parkinsonian symptoms. Some kinds of chronic stimulation have become an alternative to lesion-making surgery, supported by the fact that high-frequency stimulation induces quite a small area of inactivity around the stimulating electrode compared with the lesions induced with a lesionmaker, and stimulation directed at a particular target exerts more specific effects on particular symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Thus, whenever stimulation therapy is to be applied to patients, an effective stimulation target must be selected depending on the nature of the symptom to be improved. For example, ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) thalamic stimulation is able to stop tremor completely, but has no appreciable effects on other symptoms. Bilateral globus pallidum interna (GPi) stimulation and subthalamic nucleus (STN) stimulation have been applied to reduce the pathological inhibitory effects on the thalamocortical circuit from the GPi and/or the substantia nigra pars reticular nucleus (SNr), which produces the final output of the basal ganglia circuits. However, there is still controversy about both the indications for and the role of GPi versus STN stimulation. This article presents a review of recent reports that describe follow-up results and double-blind studies on the signs for relief of each type of parkinsonian symptom, following GPi or STN stimulation. It also includes a discussion of how further research should be organized in order to identify whether GPi or STN stimulation exerts the greatest effect on particular kinds of parkinsonian symptoms.

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Papers reviewed

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Tsubokawa, T., Katayama, Y. Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease: how to select candidates for pallidal or subthalamic stimulation. Crit Rev Neurosurg 9, 355–366 (2000).

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Key words

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Internal globus pallidus
  • Ventralis intermedius thalamic nucleus
  • Subthalamic nucleus
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Rigidity
  • Akinesia
  • Tremor
  • 1-dopa-induced dyskinesia
  • Basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit