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Mov Disord. 2004 Jan;19(1):3-14.

Surgery in Tourette syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Academic Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in early childhood. It is characterized by tics and often accompanied by disturbances in behavior, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In most cases, the disorder is self-limited or can be treated by medication or behavioral therapy. In a small percentage, however, symptoms are intractable to any conservative treatment. Since 1955, various attempts have been made to treat these patients through neurosurgical procedures. The target sites have been diverse and include the frontal lobe (prefrontal lobotomy and bimedial frontal leucotomy), the limbic system (limbic leucotomy and anterior cingulotomy), the thalamus, and the cerebellum. Combined approaches have also been tried such as anterior cingulotomies plus infrathalamic lesions. The results have often been unsatisfactory or major side effects have occurred, such as hemiplegia or dystonia. Our review of the literature from 1960 until 2003 revealed 21 reports and 3 descriptions in textbooks covering about 65 patients in total who had undergone ablative procedures for intractable TS, the first being reported in 1962. In 1999, deep brain stimulation (DBS) was introduced as a new approach for intractable TS. To date, 3 patients have been reported who underwent bilateral thalamic stimulation, with promising results on tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

Copyright 2003 Movement Disorder Society

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