Typical variations of subthalamic electrode location do not predict limb motor function improvement in Parkinson's disease

Shearwood McClelland, Blair Ford, Patrick B. Senatus, Steven J. Frucht, Linda M. Winfield, Qiping Yu, Yunling E. Du, Seth L. Pullman, Guy M. McKhann, Robert R. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an effective treatment for patients with medically refractory Parkinson's disease (PD). The degree to which the anatomic location of the DBS electrode tip determines the improvement of contralateral limb movement function has not been defined. This retrospective study was performed to address this issue. Forty-two DBS electrode tips in 21 bilaterally implanted patients were localized on postoperative MRI. The postoperative and preoperative planning MRIs were merged with the Stealth FrameLink 4.0 stereotactic planning workstation (Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, MN, USA) to determine the DBS tip coordinates. Stimulation settings were postoperatively optimized for maximal clinical effect. Patients were videotaped 1 year postoperatively and assessed by a movement disorder neurologist blinded to electrode tip locations. The nine limb-related components of the Unified PD Rating Scale Part III were tabulated to obtain a limb score, and the electrode tip locations associated with the 15 least and 15 greatest limb scores were evaluated. Two-tailed t-tests revealed no significant difference in electrode tip location between the two groups in three-dimensional distance (p = 0.759), lateral-medial (x) axis (p = 0.983), anterior-posterior (y) axis (p = 0.949) or superior-inferior (z) axis (p = 0.894) from the intended anatomical target. The range of difference in tip location and limb scores was extensive. Our results suggest that anatomic targeting alone may provide the same clinical efficacy as is achieved by "fine-tuning" DBS placement with microelectrode recording to a specific target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-778
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Limb function
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Postoperative MRI
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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