Randomized, Double-Blind Assessment of LFP Versus SUA Guidance in STN-DBS Lead Implantation: A Pilot Study

Musa Ozturk, Ilknur Telkes, Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, Ashwin Viswanathan, Arjun Tarakad, Suneel Kumar, Sameer A. Sheth, Nuri F. Ince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: The efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients is highly dependent on the precise localization of the target structures such as subthalamic nucleus (STN). Most commonly, microelectrode single unit activity (SUA) recordings are performed to refine the target. This process is heavily experience based and can be technically challenging. Local field potentials (LFPs), representing the activity of a population of neurons, can be obtained from the same microelectrodes used for SUA recordings and allow flexible online processing with less computational complexity due to lower sampling rate requirements. Although LFPs have been shown to contain biomarkers capable of predicting patients’ symptoms and differentiating various structures, their use in the localization of the STN in the clinical practice is not prevalent. Methods: Here we present, for the first time, a randomized and double-blinded pilot study with intraoperative online LFP processing in which we compare the clinical benefit from SUA- versus LFP-based implantation. Ten PD patients referred for bilateral STN-DBS were randomly implanted using either SUA or LFP guided targeting in each hemisphere. Although both SUA and LFP were recorded for each STN, the electrophysiologist was blinded to one at a time. Three months postoperatively, the patients were evaluated by a neurologist blinded to the intraoperative recordings to assess the performance of each modality. While SUA-based decisions relied on the visual and auditory inspection of the raw traces, LFP-based decisions were given through an online signal processing and machine learning pipeline. Results: We found a dramatic agreement between LFP- and SUA-based localization (16/20 STNs) providing adequate clinical improvement (51.8% decrease in 3-month contralateral motor assessment scores), with LFP-guided implantation resulting in greater average improvement in the discordant cases (74.9%, n = 3 STNs). The selected tracks were characterized by higher activity in beta (11–32 Hz) and high-frequency (200–400 Hz) bands (p < 0.01) of LFPs and stronger non-linear coupling between these bands (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Our pilot study shows equal or better clinical benefit with LFP-based targeting. Given the robustness of the electrode interface and lower computational cost, more centers can utilize LFP as a strategic feedback modality intraoperatively, in conjunction to the SUA-guided targeting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number611
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2020


  • Parkinson’s disease
  • electrophysiological targeting
  • local field potentials
  • single unit activity
  • subthalamic nucleus


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