Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT) is a promising treatment for patients with refractory epilepsy. However, therapy response varies and precise positioning of the DBS lead is potentially essential for maximizing therapeutic efficacy. We investigate if single-cell recordings acquired by microelectrode recordings can aid targeting of the ANT during surgery and hypothesize that the neuronal firing properties of the target region relate to clinical outcome. We prospectively included 10 refractory epilepsy patients and performed microelectrode recordings under general anesthesia to identify the change in neuronal signals when approaching and transecting the ANT. The neuronal firing properties of the target region, anatomical locations of microelectrode recordings and active contact positions of the DBS lead along the recorded trajectory were compared between responders and nonresponders to DBS. We obtained 19 sets of recordings from 10 patients (five responders and five nonresponders). Amongst the 403 neurons detected, 365 (90.6%) were classified as bursty. Entry into the ANT was characterized by an increase in firing rate while exit of the ANT was characterized by a decrease in firing rate. Comparing the trajectories of responders to nonresponders, we found differences neither in the neuronal firing properties themselves nor in their locations relative to the position of the active contact. Single-cell firing rate acquired by microelectrode recordings under general anesthesia can thus aid targeting of the ANT during surgery, but is not related to clinical outcome in DBS for patients with refractory epilepsy.
- anterior nucleus of the thalamus
- Deep brain stimulation
- microelectrode recordings