EEG and evoked potential recording from the subthalamic nucleus for deep brain stimulation of intractable epilepsy

Dudley S. Dinner, Silvia Neme, Dileep Nair, Erwin B. Montgomery, Kenneth Baker, Ali Rezai, Hans O. Lüders

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Objectives: The substantia nigra in the animal model has been implicated in the control of epilepsy. The substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr) receives afferents from the subthalamic nucleus (STN), which thus may have an effect on the control of epilepsy. There is evidence in the animal model of a direct connection from the cortex to the STN. High-frequency STN stimulation is being used in experimental trial for the management of intractable epilepsy. Our primary objective in this study was to determine if there was epileptiform activity recorded from the STN in association with scalp recorded epileptiform activity to support the presence of a pathway from the cortex to the STN in humans as described in animals that may be important for the management of epilepsy. This article describes the interictal and ictal electroencephalographic (EEG) findings as well as evoked potential recordings from the STN in these patients with intractable epilepsy. Methods: Four patients (3 males) ranging from 19 to 45 years with intractable focal epilepsy refractory to anti-epileptic drugs were studied. Two patients failed vagal nerve stimulation and one patient had previous epilepsy surgery. Depth electrodes were implanted stereotactically in the STN bilaterally. A comparative analysis of the interictal and ictal activities recorded from the scalp and STN electrodes was performed. Median nerve somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) were also recorded. Results: Interictal sharp waves recorded in the scalp EEG were always negative in polarity. These sharp waves were always associated with sharp waves recorded at the ipsilateral STN electrode contacts that were always positive in polarity. In addition repetitive spikes were recorded independently at the left or right STN electrode contacts, with no reflection at the scalp. These spikes were extremely stereotyped, of high amplitude and short duration, and were positive or negative in polarity. Focal scalp EEG seizures were also recorded at the ipsilateral STN electrodes. In 3 patients SEPs were recorded from the contralateral STN electrodes corresponding to the P14/N18 far-field complex. In two patients AEPs were recorded, and wave V (near-field) and wave VII (far-field) from the contralateral STN electrodes. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that scalp recorded epileptiform activity is reflected at the ipsilateral STN either following or preceding the scalp sharp waves. The STN sharp waves are most probably an expression of the direct cortico-STN glutamatergic pathways that have been demonstrated previously in animals. This pathway in man may be important with regard to a possible mechanism for the treatment of epilepsy with STN stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1391-1402
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 26 2002


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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