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  • Abnormal thalamocortical dynamics may be altered by deep brain stimulation: using magnetoencephalography to study phantom limb pain.

    28 January 2018

    Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used to alleviate chronic pain. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to study the mechanisms of DBS for pain is difficult because of the artefact caused by the stimulator. We were able to record activity over the occipital lobe of a patient using DBS for phantom limb pain during presentation of a visual stimulus. This demonstrates that MEG can be used to study patients undergoing DBS provided control stimuli are used to check the reliability of the data. We then asked the patient to rate his pain during and off DBS. Correlations were found between these ratings and power in theta (6-9) and beta bands (12-30). Further, there was a tendency for frequencies under 25 Hz to correlate with each other after a period off stimulation compared with immediately after DBS. The results are interpreted as reflecting abnormal thalamocortical dynamics, previously implicated in painful syndromes.

  • Changes in cognition and health-related quality of life with unilateral thalamotomy for Parkinsonian tremor.

    16 March 2018

    Cognitive functioning and health-related quality of life were assessed pre- and post-operatively in a consecutive series of 31 Parkinson's disease patients who underwent stereotactic unilateral thalamotomy (22 left-sided, 9 right-sided) for tremor alleviation. Neuropsychological functions assessed included verbal and visual memory, language and speech production, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and attention and working memory. Health-related quality of life measures included both general and disease-specific questionnaires. We found a statistically significant post-operative decline in phonetic verbal fluency scores for left-operated patients, as well as improvements in self-ratings of stigma and bodily discomfort on the disease-specific quality of life questionnaire. These findings suggest that thalamotomy, when indicated, has limited cognitive sequelae and may result in improved quality of life in areas specific to Parkinson's disease.

  • Using magnetoencephalography to investigate brain activity during high frequency deep brain stimulation in a cluster headache patient.

    16 March 2018

    PURPOSE: Treatment-resistant cluster headache can be successfully alleviated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus [1]. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive functional imaging technique with both high temporal and high spatial resolution. However, it is not known whether the inherent electromagnetic (EM) noise produced by high frequency DBS is compatible with MEG. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used MEG to record brain activity in an asymptomatic cluster headache patient with a DBS implanted in the right posterior hypothalamus while he made small movements during periods of no stimulation, 7 Hz stimulation and 180 Hz stimulation. RESULTS: We were able to measure brain activity successfully both during low and high frequency stimulation. Analysis of the MEG recordings showed similar activation in motor areas in during the patient's movements as expected. We also observed similar activations in cortical and subcortical areas that have previously been reported to be associated with pain when the patient's stimulator was turned on or off [2,3]. CONCLUSION: These results show that MEG can be used to measure brain activity regardless of the presence of high frequency deep brain stimulation.

  • Deep brain stimulation for generalised dystonia and spasmodic torticollis.

    19 March 2018

    Dystonia appears distinct from the other tremulous disorders in that improvement following deep brain stimulation frequently appears in a delayed and progressive manner. The rate of this improvement and the point at which no further progress can be expected are presently unknown. The establishment of these parameters is important in the provision of accurate and relevant prognostic information to these patients, their carers, and their treating physicians. We studied 12 consecutive patients with generalised dystonia (n=6) and spasmodic torticollis (n=6) who underwent bilateral globus pallidus internus (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) and were followed up for a minimum of 2 years postoperatively. Standard rating scales were used to quantify their neurological improvement. Both groups experienced a statistically significant improvement in their rating scores at both one and two years following surgery. At 2 years follow-up, the spasmodic torticollis group exhibited a 59% improvement in their total Toronto Western Spasmodic Torticoilis Rating Scale (TWSTRS) rating score and the generalised dystonia group attained a 46% improvement in their overall Burke, Fahn and Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale (BFMDRS) evaluation. Ninety-five percent of the final improvement was attained by 6.4 months in the generalised dystonia group and by 6.6 months in those with spasmodic torticollis. There was no significant improvement after one year postoperatively. These findings add further support to GPi DBS as an effective treatment for generalised dystonia and spasmodic torticollis, and furnish important information as to the expected rate of improvement and the point at which no further gains can be reasonably anticipated.