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Keywords:

  • CM-pf complex;
  • deep brain stimulation;
  • mesencephalic reticular formation;
  • minimally conscious state;
  • spinal cord stimulation;
  • vegetative state

Abstract

One hundred and seven patients in vegetative state (VS) were evaluated neurologically and electrophysiologically over 3 months (90 days) after the onset of brain injury. Among these patients, 21 were treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). The stimulation sites were the mesencephalic reticular formation (two patients) and centromedian–parafascicularis nucleus complex (19 cases). Eight of the patients recovered from VS and were able to obey verbal commands at 13 and 10 months in the case of head trauma and at 19, 14, 13, 12, 12 and 8 months in the case of vascular disease after comatose brain injury, and no patients without DBS recovered from VS spontaneously within 24 months after brain injury. The eight patients who recovered from VS showed desynchronization on continuous EEG frequency analysis. The Vth wave of the auditory brainstem response and N20 of the somatosensory evoked potential could be recorded, although with a prolonged latency, and the pain-related P250 was recorded with an amplitude of > 7 μV. Sixteen (14.9%) of the 107 VS patients satisfied these criteria in our electrophysiological evaluation, 10 of whom were treated with DBS and six of whom were not treated with DBS. In these 16 patients, the recovery rate from VS was different between the DBS therapy group and the no DBS therapy group (< 0.01, Fisher’s exact probability test) These findings indicate that DBS may be useful for the recovery of patients from VS if the candidates are selected on the basis of electrophysiological criteria.