[Thalamic deep brain stimulation for refractory epilepsy]

Cristina V Torres, Jesús Pastor, Eduardo G Navarrete, Rafael G Sola
Revista de Neurologia 2011 July 16, 53 (2): 99-106
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects 1-2% of the population. Despite the available treatments (drug therapy, resective surgery, vagus nerve stimulation), there is a significant subgroup of patients that continues to have disabling seizures. The indications of deep brain stimulation are exponentially growing, and there is a wide experience with deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of abnormal movements. DBS for epilepsy may be a new therapy for the subgroup of patients that remain disabled despite other treatments. Experiments with animal models, and the new advances in our knowledge about the neurophysiological processes that govern the genesis of epilepsy, have led to the selection of various brain targets for stimulation. The thalamus is a fundamental relay centre in the corticothalamic and corticostriatal thalamocortical circuits, and it has been studied with this purpose. Studies on epileptic patients have shown various degrees of effectiveness; however, controlled studies do not permit definitive conclusions about the role of DBS in the treatment of epilepsy. Probably a better patient selection would lead to more decisive conclusions. Further randomised studies are needed to draw reliable conclusions and scientific evidence on the effectiveness of DBS for refractory epilepsy.

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