Side-effects of subthalamic stimulation in Parkinson's disease: clinical evolution and predictive factors


Dr Dominique Guehl, Service de Neurophysiologie Clinique, Hôpital Pellegrin, Place Amélie-Rabat Léon, 33076 Bordeaux, France (tel.: 33-557571551; fax: 33-556901421; e-mail:


Chronic bilateral high-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an alternative treatment for disabling forms of Parkinson's disease when on–off fluctuations and levodopa-induced dyskinesias compromise patients’ quality of life. The aim of this study was to assess the evolution of side-effects during the first year of follow-up and search for clinical predictive factors accounting for their occurrence. We compared the frequency of side-effects at 3 and 12 months after surgery in a cohort of 44 patients. The off-medication scores of Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) II, III, axial symptoms, disease duration and age at surgery were retained for correlation analysis. Dysarthria/hypophonia, weight gain and postural instability were the most frequent chronic side-effects. Whereas dysarthria/hypophonia remained stable over time, weight gain and postural instability increased during the first year post-op. High axial and UPDRS II scores at surgery were predictive of dysarthria/hypophonia. Age and axial score at surgery were positively correlated with postural instability. Despite the occurrence of side-effects, the benefit/side-effects ratio of STN stimulation was largely positive during the first year of follow-up. Age, intensity of axial symptoms and UDPRS II off-medication score before surgery are predictive factors of dysarthria/hypophonia and postural instability after surgery.