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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;97(Pt 2):215-22.

DBS in tourette syndrome: rationale, current status and future prospects.

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  • Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands. vva@snch.azm.nl


Tourette syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in early childhood and characterized by tics, often associated with behavioural abnormalities. Symptoms often disappear before or during adulthood. Treatment consists of psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. A small percentage of patients is treatment refractory. After the introduction of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus as a new therapeutical approach in 1999, several other brain nuclei have been targeted in a small number of patients, like the globus pallidus internus, anteromedial and ventroposterolateral part, and the nucleus accumbens. In the published reports, a tic reduction rate of at least 66% is described. The effects of DBS on associated behavioural disorders are more variable. The number of treated patients is small and it is unclear whether the effects of DBS are dependent on the target nucleus. The pathophysiology of Tourette syndrome is not well understood. On the basis of our current knowledge of cortico-basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuits, an explanation for the beneficial effects of DBS on tics is proposed. It is concluded that a meticulous evaluation of the electrode position, and a blinded assessment of the clinical effects on tics and behavioural disorders, is absolutely mandatory in order to identify the best target of DBS for Tourette syndrome.

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