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J Neurosurg. 1998 Aug;89(2):183-93.

Gamma knife radiosurgery as a lesioning technique in movement disorder surgery.

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Northwest Neuroscience Institute and Gamma Knife Center, Northwest Hospital, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.



To increase knowledge of the safety and efficacy of the use of gamma knife radiosurgery in patients with movement disorders, the authors describe their own experience in this field and include blinded independent assessments of their results.


Fifty-five patients underwent radiosurgical placement of lesions either in the thalamus (27 patients) or globus pallidus (28 patients) for treatment of movement disorders. Patients were evaluated pre- and postoperatively by a team of observers skilled in the assessment of gait and movement disorders who were blinded to the procedure performed. The observers were not associated with the surgical team and concomitantly and blindly also assessed a group of 11 control patients with Parkinson's disease who did not undergo any surgical procedures. All stereotactic lesions were made with the Leksell gamma unit using the 4-mm secondary collimator helmet and a single isocenter with maximum doses from 120 to 160 Gy. Clinical follow-up evaluation indicated that 88% of patients who underwent thalamotomy became tremor free or nearly tremor free. Statistically significant improvements in performance were noted in the independent assessments of Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores in the patients undergoing thalamotomy. Of patients undergoing pallidotomy who had exhibited levodopainduced dyskinesias, 85.7% had total or near-total relief of that symptom. Clinical assessment indicated improvements in bradykinesia and rigidity in 64.3% of patients who underwent pallidotomy. Independent blinded assessments did not reveal statistically significant improvements in Hoehn and Yahr scores or UPDRS scores. On the other hand, 64.7% of patients showed improvements in subscores of the UPDRS, including activities of daily living (58%), total contralateral score (58%), and contralateral motor scores (47%). Total ipsilateral score and ipsilateral motor scores were both improved in 59% of patients. One (1.8%) of 55 patients experienced a homonymous hemianopsia 9 months after pallidotomy due to an unexpectedly large lesion. No other complications of any kind were seen. Neuropsychological test scores that were obtained for the combined pallidotomy and thalamotomy treatment groups preoperatively and at 6 months postoperatively demonstrated an absence of cognitive morbidity. Follow-up neuroimaging confirmed correct lesion location in all patients, with a mean maximum deviation from the planned target of 1 mm in the vertical axis. Measurements of lesions at regular intervals on postoperative magnetic resonance images demonstrated considerable variability in lesion volumes. The safety and efficacy of functional lesions made with the gamma knife appear to be similar to those made with the assistance of electrophysiological guidance with open functional stereotactic procedures.


Functional lesions may be made safely and accurately using gamma knife radiosurgical techniques. The efficacy is equivalent to that reported for open techniques that use radiofrequency lesioning methods with electrophysiological guidance. Complications are very infrequent with the radiosurgical method. The use of functional radiosurgical lesioning to treat movement disorders is particularly attractive in older patients and in those with major systemic diseases or coagulopathies; its use in the general movement disorder population seems reasonable as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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