Rationale, mechanisms of efficacy, anatomical targets and future prospects of electrical deep brain stimulation for epilepsy

C Pollo, J G Villemure
Acta Neurochirurgica. Supplement 2007, 97: 311-20
Electrical stimulation of deep brain structures is a promising new technology for the treatment of medically intractable seizures. Performed in vitro and on animal models of epilepsy, electrical stimulation has shown to reduce seizure frequency. Preliminary results on humans are encouraging. However, such improvements emerge despite a lack of understanding of the precise mechanisms underlying electrical stimulation either delivered directly on the epileptogenic zone (direct control) or through an anatomical relay of cortico-subcortical networks (remote control). Anatomical targets such as the thalamus (centromedian nucleus, anterior thalamus, mamillary body and mamillothalamic tracts), the subthalamic nucleus, the caudate nucleus and direct stimulation of the hippocampal formation have been successfully investigated. Although randomized controlled studies are still missing, deep brain stimulation is a promising treatment option for a subgroup of carefully selected patients with intractable epilepsy who are not candidates for resective surgery. The effectiveness, the optimal anatomic targets, the ideal stimulation parameters and devices, as well as patient selection criteria are still to be defined.

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