More MS news articles for May 2002

A prospective study of thalamic deep brain stimulation for the treatment of movement disorders in multiple sclerosis

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British Journal of Neurosurgery
Volume 16, Number 2/April 01, 2002; Pages: 102 - 109
J. Hooper, R. Taylor, B. Pentland, I. R. Whittle
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK

The place for neurosurgical management of movement disorders in multiple sclerosis is unclear.

To evaluate the potential benefits of unilateral thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) a prospective study was performed.

Fifteen patients with confirmed MS and chronic, severe, drug-resistant movement disorders underwent stereotactic surgery to implant a thalamic DBS electrode using CT image guidance and intra-operative neurophysiological testing.

The primary outcome measures were reduction in tremor severity and improvement in tests of hand function when the DBS electrode was turned on, 12 months after surgery.

Secondary outcome measures included indices of disability, handicap, neuropsychological function and independence.

Thirty-seven patients were assessed for treatment, but only 15 underwent surgery.

In the 10 patients in whom implantation of the complete DBS system was carried out there was a significant reduction in the severity of tremor (p = 0.02) and improvement in hand function (p = 0.02).

There were no benefits in any of the secondary outcome measures.

Two patients had thalamocapsular haemorrhages at the site of electrode implantation and two had seizures in the follow-up period.

Thalamic stimulation significantly reduced the tremor associated with MS and improved hand function in the targeted upper limb.

However, there can be difficulties with identifying an optimal implantation site during operation, significant procedural morbidity and difficulty in predicting immediate outcome.

It is also likely that the insignificant benefits of DBS on disability and handicap reflect persisting cerebeller dysmetria, and both the severity and diffuse nature of the disease process in this patient cohort.