Are two leads always better than one: An emerging case for unilateral subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease

Jay L. Alberts, Christopher J. Hass, Jerrold L. Vitek, Michael S. Okun

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Bilateral subthalamic (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) provides significant symptom relief for the majority of well-screened patients suffering with Parkinson's disease (PD). Implantation of stimulating electrodes bilaterally in a single session has become standard in most operating theaters worldwide. There is, however, limited evidence-based support for this approach. Although bilateral surgical procedures have been shown, using standardized clinical ratings, to provide greater motor benefits compared to unilateral procedures, bilateral procedures are more likely to be associated with increased acute and long-term complications including post-operative confusion, speech difficulties and cognitive dysfunction. Unilateral stimulation has been shown to provide significant benefits for appendicular and axial symptoms. The relative benefit of implanting one versus two sides and whether the degree of benefit associated with the second side is worth the potential risk of doing so have not been examined systematically. The relative magnitude of benefit associated with unilateral versus bilateral procedures is likely to vary from patient to patient, particularly in those patients with asymmetric symptomatology. As such, there are likely subsets of patients who do not require and therefore should not be exposed to the potential complications associated with bilateral simultaneous implantation. This review and commentary will outline our current understanding of the benefits associated with unilateral and bilateral STN DBS and discuss the role of unilateral or staged unilateral procedures as an alternative surgical approach for patients with advanced PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Are two leads always better than one: An emerging case for unilateral subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this