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Pedunculopontine nucleus region deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising but experimental therapy for axial motor deficits in Parkinson's disease (PD), particularly gait freezing and falls. Here, we summarise the clinical application and outcomes reported during the past 10 years. The published dataset is limited, comprising fewer than 100 cases. Furthermore, there is great variability in clinical methodology between and within surgical centers. The most common indication has been severe medication refractory gait freezing (often associated with postural instability). Some patients received lone pedunculopontine nucleus DBS (unilateral or bilateral) and some received costimulation of the subthalamic nucleus or internal pallidum. Both rostral and caudal pedunculopontine nucleus subregions have been targeted. However, the spread of stimulation and variance in targeting means that neighboring brain stem regions may be implicated in any response. Low stimulation frequencies are typically employed (20-80 Hertz). The fluctuating nature of gait freezing can confound programming and outcome assessments. Although firm conclusions cannot be drawn on therapeutic efficacy, the literature suggests that medication refractory gait freezing and falls can improve. The impact on postural instability is unclear. Most groups report a lack of benefit on gait or limb akinesia or dopaminergic medication requirements. The key question is whether pedunculopontine nucleus DBS can improve quality of life in PD. So far, the evidence supporting such an effect is minimal. Development of pedunculopontine nucleus DBS to become a reliable, established therapy would likely require a collaborative effort between experienced centres to clarify biomarkers predictive of response and the optimal clinical methodology. © 2017 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/mds.27098

Type

Journal article

Journal

Mov disord

Publication Date

01/2018

Volume

33

Pages

10 - 20

Keywords

Parkinson's disease, deep brain stimulation, gait freezing, pedunculopontine nucleus