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This article is the authors’ final published version in Neurosurgery, Volume 89, Issue 3, August 2021, Pages 406 - 412.

The published version is available at Copyright © Gross et al.


BACKGROUND: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT) is an effective therapy for patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. Best practices for surgical targeting of the ANT can be refined as new information becomes available regarding effective stimulation sites.

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a retrospective analysis of the relationship between outcomes (seizure reduction during year 1) and DBS lead locations in subjects from the SANTÉ pivotal trial (Stimulation of ANT for Epilepsy) based upon recent clinical findings.

METHODS: Postoperative images from SANTÉ subjects (n = 101) were evaluated with respect to lead trajectory relative to defined anatomic landmarks. A qualitative scoring system was used to rate each lead placement for proximity to an identified target region above the junction of the mammillothalamic tract with the ANT. Each subject was assigned a bilateral lead placement score, and these scores were then compared to clinical outcomes.

RESULTS: Approximately 70% of subjects had "good" bilateral lead placements based upon location with respect to the defined target. These subjects had a much higher probability of being a clinical responder (>50% seizure reduction) than those with scores reflecting suboptimal lead placements (43.5% vs 21.9%, P < .05).

CONCLUSION: Consistent with experience from more established DBS indications, our findings and other recent reports suggest that there may be specific sites within the ANT that are associated with superior clinical outcomes. It will be important to continue to evaluate these relationships and the evolution of other clinical practices (eg, programming) to further optimize this therapy.

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