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Keywords:

  • deep brain stimulation;
  • gender;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • quality of life;
  • subthalamic nucleus

Objectives

Surveys of subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease (PD) have shown that this procedure is roughly twice more common in men than in women. Here, we investigate possible differences between women and men undergoing STN DBS, with respect to health-related quality of life.

Materials and methods

Forty-nine consecutive patients (18 women) received STN DBS. The impact of PD and its surgical treatment was compared between women and men, before and at mean of 19 ± 11 months after surgery, using the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and the Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39).

Results

Duration of disease at surgery and off-medication scores of the motor part of the UPDRS were similar in women and men. At baseline, women had lower doses of dopaminergic medication than men, experienced more disability due to dyskinesias, had more sensory symptoms and perceived more difficulties in mobility. Following DBS, both men and women showed equal and significant (P < 0.001) improvement in off-medication scores on the UPDRS III. On the PDQ-39, women expressed improvement in ADL to a greater extent than men. Moreover, women but not men showed a positive effect on mobility, stigma and cognition as well as on the summary score of PDQ-39.

Conclusions

Although STN DBS results in equal degree of motor improvement between women and men, health-related quality of life seems to improve to a greater extent in women.