Mov Disord 1998 ;13 Suppl 3:119-25
Department of Clinical and Biological Neurosciences, INSERM Preclinical Neurobiology, Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble, Hôpital A. Michallon, France.
Stimulation of the thalamic nucleus ventralis intermedius (Vim) at high (130-Hz) frequency has been used over the last 8 years as a treatment in 134 patients with movement disorders (91 Parkinson's disease [PD], 23 essential tremor [ET], 21 various dyskinesias and dystonias, including four multiple sclerosis [MS]), implanted with long-term electrodes connected to a programmable stimulator. In PD patients, tremor was selectively suppressed for < or = 11 years. In ET patients, results were satisfactory, but in 35% of the cases deteriorated with time, when tremor had an action component. Other types of dyskinesias were much less influenced. Sixty-eight patients were bilaterally implanted, and 14 were implanted contralateral to a previous thalamotomy. Side effects were often minor, well tolerated, and immediately reversible. Three secondary scalp infections led to temporary removal of implanted material. There was no permanent morbidity. Long-term Vim stimulation, which is reversible, adaptable, and well tolerated, even by bilaterally operated-on (68 of 134) and by elderly patients, should replace thalamotomy in the regular surgical treatment of parkinsonian and essential tremors. More recently, we stimulated the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in 51 patients (44 bilateral) and the globus pallidus internus (GPi) in 12 patients (seven bilateral). STN stimulation has a spectacular effect on akinesia and rigidity and may improve the patients so as to maintain them all day at a level similar to their best "on" periods. A 30-50% reduction in drug dosage was possible in most of the patients. GPi stimulation has indications and effects similar to those of pallidectomy: abnormal involuntary movements are totally suppressed, whereas effects on akinesia and rigidity are not so important as they are with STN stimulation. For all three targets, morbidity is low and reversible, even when bilateral implantations are performed. The deep-brain stimulation method has now proved its safety as compared with ablative surgery and is able to provide a significant improvement to these severely disabled patients. Long-term follow up is establishing the security of the method, which should be considered in earlier stages of the disease actively to participate to rehabilitation.