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Deep brain stimulation in children and young adults with secondary dystonia: the Children's Hospital Los Angeles experience.

Neurosurgical Focus 2013 November
BACKGROUND: Dystonia is a movement disorder in which involuntary sustained or intermittent muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements, abnormal postures, or both. It can be classified as primary or secondary. There is no cure for dystonia and the goal of treatment is to provide a better quality of life for the patient. Surgical intervention is considered for patients in whom an adequate trial of medical treatment has failed. Deep brain stimulation (DBS), specifically of the globus pallidus interna (GPi), has been shown to be extremely effective in primary generalized dystonia. There is much less evidence for the use of DBS in patients with secondary dystonia. However, given the large number of patients with secondary dystonia, the significant burden on the patients and their families, and the potential for DBS to improve their functional status and comfort level, it is important to continue to investigate the use of DBS in the realm of secondary dystonia.

OBJECT: The objective of this study is to review a series of cases involving patients with secondary dystonia who have been treated with pallidal DBS.

METHODS: A retrospective review of 9 patients with secondary dystonia who received treatment with DBS between February 2011 and February 2013 was performed. Preoperative and postoperative videos were scored using the Barry-Albright Dystonia Scale (BADS) and Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale (BFMDRS) by a neurologist specializing in movement disorders. In addition, the patients' families completed a subjective questionnaire to assess the perceived benefit of DBS.

RESULTS: The average age at DBS unit implantation was 15.1 years (range 6-20 years). The average time to follow-up for the BADS evaluation from battery implantation was 3.8 months (median 3 months). The average time to follow-up for the subjective benefit evaluation was 10.6 months (median 9.5 months). The mean BADS scores improved by 9% from 26.5 to 24 (p = 0.04), and the mean BFMDRS scores improved by 9.3% (p = 0.055). Of note, even in patients with minimal functional improvement, there seemed to be decreased contractures and spasms leading to improved comfort. There were no complications such as infections or hematoma in this case series. In the subjective benefit evaluation, 3 patients' families reported "good" benefit, 4 reported "minimal" benefit, and 1 reported no benefit.

CONCLUSIONS: These early results of GPi stimulation in a series of 9 patients suggest that DBS is useful in the treatment of secondary generalized dystonia in children and young adults. Objective improvements in BADS and BFMDRS scores are demonstrated in some patients with generalized secondary dystonia but not in others. Larger follow-up studies of DBS for secondary dystonia, focusing on patient age, history, etiology, and patterns of dystonia, are needed to learn which patients will respond best to DBS.

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