Introduction: One-third of patients with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite antiepileptic medications. Some of these refractory patients may not be candidates for surgical resection primarily because the seizure onset zones (SOZs) involve both hemispheres or are located in eloquent areas. The NeuroPace Responsive Neurostimulation System (RNS) is a closed-loop device that uses programmable detection and stimulation to tailor therapy to a patient's individual neurophysiology. Here, we present our single-center experience with the use of RNS in thalamic nuclei to provide long-term seizure control in patients with refractory epilepsy. Methods: We performed a prospective single-center study of consecutive refractory epilepsy patients who underwent RNS system implantation in the anterior (ANT) and centromedian (CM) thalamic nuclei from September 2015 to December 2020. Patients were followed postoperatively to evaluate seizure freedom and complications. Results: Twenty-three patients underwent placement of 36 RNS thalamic leads (CM = 27 leads, ANT = 9 leads). Mean age at implant was 18.8 ± 11.2 years (range 7.8–62 years-old). Two patients (8.7%) developed infections: 1 improved with antibiotic treatments alone, and 1 required removal with eventual replacement of the system to recover the therapeutic benefit. Mean time from RNS implantation to last follow-up was 22.3 months. Based on overall reduction of seizure frequency, 2 patients (8.7%) had no- to <25% improvement, 6 patients (26.1%) had 25–49% improvement, 14 patients (60.9%) had 50–99% improvement, and 1 patient (4.3%) became seizure-free. All patients reported significant improvement in seizure duration and severity, and 17 patients (74%) reported improved post-ictal state. There was a trend for subjects with SOZs located in the temporal lobe to achieve better outcomes after thalamic RNS compared to those with extratemporal SOZs. Of note, seizure etiology was syndromic in 12 cases (52.2%), and 7 patients (30.4%) had undergone resection/disconnection surgery prior to thalamic RNS therapy. Conclusion: Thalamic RNS achieved ≥50% seizure control in ~65% of patients. Infections were the most common complication. This therapeutic modality may be particularly useful for patients affected by aggressive epilepsy syndromes since a young age, those whose seizure foci are located in the mesial temporal lobe, and those who have failed prior surgical interventions.
- refractory epilepsy
- responsive neurostimulation (RNS)