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J Neural Transm. 2013 Oct;120(10):1425-31. doi: 10.1007/s00702-013-1017-x. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Morphological and chemical analysis of a deep brain stimulation electrode explanted from a dystonic patient.

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  • 1Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation, IRCCS Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Piazza Sant'Onofrio 4, 00165, Rome, Italy.


Deep brain stimulation is an effective treatment for different types of dystonia; nevertheless dystonic movements could provoke hardware-related complications, including fractures or electrodes displacement. This study focuses on a morphological and structural analysis of a malfunctioning electrode removed from a dystonic patient. In this case, high impedance values and worsening of symptoms were observed. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) were performed on the explanted electrode. The qualitative and quantitative data collected from the damaged electrode were compared with a new electrode, used as a control. The SEM analysis of the damaged electrode revealed fissurations and crack-like forms of the outer jacket tubing, degeneration of the internal core and wires stretching. The EDX analysis permitted to appreciate an increase of chemical elements, especially sodium, suggesting an alteration of the electrode-brain interface. This study shows the qualitative and quantitative alterations of a malfunctioning electrode and, to reduce the rate of hardware-related complications, it suggests the development of more reliable polymers.

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