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J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Oct;32:166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2016.03.028. Epub 2016 Jul 5.

Intra-operative micro-electrode recording in functional neurosurgery: Past, present, future.

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Department of Neurosurgery, LSU Health-Shreveport, 1501 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71130-3932, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, LSU Health-Shreveport, 1501 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71130-3932, USA. Electronic address:


The field of functional neurosurgery has experienced a rise, fall and lastly a renaissance over the past 75years. Micro-electrode recording (MER) played a key role during this eventful journey. However, as the intra-operative MRI continues to evolve, a pertinent question about the utility of MER has been raised in recent years. In this article, we critically review these current controversies. The English literature is reviewed and the complex technique of MER is discussed in a simplified manner. The improvement of neuroimaging and its application in functional neurosurgery, especially in deep brain stimulation, is discussed. Finally, the current controversies and technical advances which can direct the future are reviewed. The results of existing meta-analyses addressing the controversies are summarized. Wide variations of pre-operative and intra-operative targeting methods have been described in the literature. Though functional neurosurgery is generally safe, complications do occur and multiple passes during MER can certainly add to the risk of inadvertent hemorrhage and infection. Additionally, the recent introduction of newer MRI modalities has ensured better delineation of the target. However, MER is still useful to address brain shift, for mapping of newer targets, for ablative surgeries and in centers without an intra-operative imaging facility. In the current scenario, it is nearly impossible to conduct a prospective study to decide the utility of MER. The importance of MER may further diminish in the future as a routine procedure, but its role as a gold standard procedure may still persist.


Deep brain stimulation; Intra-operative CT; Intra-operative MRI; Micro-electrode recording

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