Pallidal surgery for the treatment of primary generalized dystonia: long-term follow-up

Maria G Cersosimo, Gabriela B Raina, Fabian Piedimonte, Julio Antico, Pablo Graff, Federico E Micheli
Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery 2008, 110 (2): 145-50

OBJECTIVE: To describe the results and long-term follow-up after functional surgery of the internal segment of the globus pallidus (GPi) in 10 patients with primary generalized dystonia.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Nine of the 10 patients were positive for the DYT1 gene mutation. Bilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the GPi was performed in three cases, bilateral pallidotomy in two, and combined surgery (unilateral GPi lesion with contralateral stimulation) in the remaining five. All patients were evaluated with the Burke-Fahn-Marsden dystonia scale (BFMDS) before, immediately after surgery, at 3 weeks, 3 and 6 months and then yearly. Follow up time ranged from 15 to 105 months (mean: 66.1 months) with six patients having more than 6 years follow up.

RESULTS: All patients improved after surgery. All patients with unilateral or bilateral DBS experienced an immediate improvement before starting stimulation. The magnitude of this initial micro lesion effect did not predict the magnitude of the long-term benefit of DBS. The mean decrease in the in the BFMDS was 34%, 55%, and 65% in the movement scale; and 32%, 48%, and 49% in the disability scale for patients with bilateral pallidal DBS, combined unilateral DBS and contralateral pallidotomy, and bilateral pallidotomy, respectively. Worsening of dystonia after a plateau of sustained benefit was observed in three patients. Two patients required multiple pallidal surgeries. Adverse events included: permanent anarthria (1), misplacement of the electrode requiring further surgery (2), scalp infection (1), and hardware related problems (3).

CONCLUSIONS: This long-term follow up study confirms the beneficial effect of pallidal DBS or pallidotomy in primary generalized dystonia. In addition, our results extent previous observations by showing that, in these patients, (1) the microlesion effect of DBS is not predictive of long-term benefit; (2) combined DBS with contralateral pallidotomy appears to be more effective than bilateral pallidal DBS; and (3) dystonia can reappear after an initial good response during long term follow up.

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