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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2014 Apr;121(4):391-8. doi: 10.1007/s00702-013-1122-x. Epub 2013 Nov 30.

Deep brain stimulation in critical care conditions.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "C. Besta", Via Celoria 11, 20133, Milan, Italy.


Some neurological conditions require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) where deep sedation and mechanical ventilation are administered to improve the patient's condition. Nevertheless, these treatments are not always helpful in disease control. At this stage, deep brain stimulation (DBS) could become a viable alternative in the treatment of critical neurological conditions with long-lasting clinical benefit. The value of deep brain stimulation has been investigated in the treatment of patients who had undergone surgical electrode implants as an emergency procedure to treat acute life-threatening conditions requiring admission to neurological ICU (NICU). A before-and-after perspective study was examined of seven patients who were treated with DBS for status dystonicus (SD) and post-stroke severe hemiballismus. Bilateral globus pallidus internus (GPi) DBS was performed in five SD patients and unilateral ventralis oralis anterior and posterior (Voa/Vop) nucleus of the thalamus DBS in two post-stroke hemiballismus patients. Bilateral GPi-DBS allowed SD resolution in a time lapse varying from 1 week to 3 months. No clear improvements compared to the baseline clinical condition were observed. Unilateral Voa/Vop-DBS intervention controlled hemiballismus after 10 h, and the patient was discharged in 2 days. The other patient was transferred from the NICU to the neurosurgery ward after 13 days. No surgical complications were observed in any of the above procedures. Neurostimulation procedures could represent a valuable choice in critical care conditions, when involuntary movements are continuous, life-threatening and refractory to intensive care procedures. DBS is feasible, safe and effective in selected cases.

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