Why are clinical trials of deep brain stimulation terminated? An analysis of clinicaltrials.gov

Akash Mishra, Sabrina L. Begley, Harshal A. Shah, Brandon A. Santhumayor, Ritesh A. Ramdhani, Albert J. Fenoy, Michael Schulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although deep brain stimulation (DBS) has established uses for patients with movement disorders and epilepsy, it is under consideration for a wide range of neurologic and neuropsychiatric conditions. Objective: To review successful and unsuccessful DBS clinical trials and identify factors associated with early trial termination. Methods: The ClinicalTrials.gov database was screened for all studies related to DBS. Information regarding condition of interest, study aim, trial design, trial success, and, if applicable, reason for failure was collected. Trials were compared and logistic regression was utilized to identify independent factors associated with trial termination. Results: Of 325 identified trials, 79.7% were successful and 20.3% unsuccessful. Patient recruitment, sponsor decision, and device issues were the most cited reasons for termination. 242 trials (74.5%) were interventional with 78.1% successful. There was a statistically significant difference between successful and unsuccessful trials in number of funding sources (p = 0.0375). NIH funding was associated with successful trials while utilization of other funding sources (academic institutions and community organizations) was associated with unsuccessful trials. 83 trials (25.5%) were observational with 84.0% successful; there were no statistically significant differences between successful and unsuccessful observational trials. Conclusion: One in five clinical trials for DBS were found to be unsuccessful, most commonly due to patient recruitment difficulties. The source of funding was the only factor associated with trial success. As DBS research continues to grow, understanding the current state of clinical trials will help design successful future studies, thereby minimizing futile expenditures of time, cost, and patient engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100378
JournalWorld Neurosurgery: X
StatePublished - Jul 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical trials
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Movement disorders


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