For deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in Parkinson’s disease (PD), many centers employ visualization of the nucleus on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), intraoperative microelectrode recordings (MER), and test stimulation in awake patients. The value of these steps is a subject for ongoing debate. In the current study, we determined the relative contribution of MRI targeting, multitrack MER, and awake test stimulation in final lead placement during STN DBS surgery for PD.
Data on PD patients undergoing MRI-targeted STN DBS surgery with three-channel MER and awake test stimulation between February 2010 and January 2014 were analyzed to determine in which MER trajectory final leads were implanted and why this tract was chosen.
Seventy-six patients underwent implantation of 146 DBS leads. In 92% of the STN, the final leads were implanted in one of the three planned channels. In 6%, additional channels were needed. In 2%, surgery was aborted before final lead implantation due to anxiety or fatigue. The final leads were implanted in the channels with the longest STN MER signal trajectory in 60% of the STN (38% of the bilaterally implanted patients). This was the central channel containing the MRI target in 39% of the STN (18% bilaterally). The most frequently noted reasons why another channel than the central channel was chosen for final lead placement were (1) a lower threshold for side effects (54%) and (2) no or a too short trajectory of the STN MER signal (40%) in the central channel. The latter reason correlated with larger 2D (x and y) errors in our stereotactic method.
STN DBS leads were often not implanted in the MRI-planned trajectory or in the trajectory with the longest STN MER signal. Thresholds for side effects during awake test stimulation were decisive for final target selection in the majority of patients.

© 2020 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.