Low Frequency Deep Brain Stimulation for Dystonia: Lower is Not Always Better

  • Frances M. Velez-Lago
  • Genko Oyama
  • Kelly D. Foote
  • Nelson Hwynn
  • Pamela Zeilman
  • Charles Jacobson
  • Samuel Wu
  • Michael S. Okun

Abstract

Background:  It has been observed that low-frequency stimulation (LFS) may be effective for dystonia, and the use of LFS may alleviate the need for frequent battery changes in a subset of patients. The aim of this study was to analyze LFS as a strategy to treat deep brain stimulation (DBS) patients with various dystonias.

Methods: Subjects had to receive a minimum of 6 months of clinical follow-up at the University of Florida, and were required to have a minimum of 3 months on a LFS trial. Twenty-seven dystonia DBS patients were retrospectively analyzed from the UF-INFORM database.

Results: Thirteen subjects met inclusion criteria. Of the 13 subjects, all had bilateral internal pallidum (GPi) DBS, and five (38.5%) remained with at least one side on LFS settings at their last follow up (average follow up 24 months, range 6–46 months). Within the first 6 months, six (46%) subjects remained on LFS and seven (54%) were changed to high-frequency stimulation (HFS). Those who remained on LFS settings at 6 months were characterized by shorter disease durations than those on HFS settings. There were no significant differences in dystonia severity (Unified Dystonia Rating Scale and Burke–Fahn–Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale) at baseline between the two settings. The estimated battery life for LFS (79.9±30.5) was significantly longer than for HFS settings (32.2±13.1, p<0.001)

Discussion: LFS was ultimately chosen for 38.5% of all subjects. Although this study failed to yield solid predictive features, subjects on LFS tended to have shorter disease durations.