Deep Brain Stimulation for Epilepsy


Sean J. Nagel, MD, Department of Neurosurgery, S-80, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA. Email:


Introduction. There is renewed interest in the use of electrical stimulation to control seizures in patients with medically refractory epilepsy. The evidence indicates that multiple nuclei are involved in the onset, spread, or termination of seizures. Establishing electrical stimulation parameters tailored to these nuclei that best control seizures is ongoing. Methods. The aim of this article is to review the published literature on electrical stimulation of the brain for epilepsy in animals and humans. Results. Animal and human research efforts have focused primarily on the study of the cerebellum, anterior thalamus, centromedian thalamus, substania nigra, caudate nucleus, subthalamic nucleus, and amygdalo-hippocampal complex. Electrical stimulation of deep brain nuclei has in some instances controlled seizures and epilepsy. The advent of seizure detection devices used in closed-loop studies has in part redefined the strategy to prevent seizure occurrence and limit spread. Discussion. A number of studies in animals and humans indicate that electrical stimulation may be an alternative treatment for some patients with medically intractable epilepsy who are not candidates for conventional surgical options. Conclusion. The reduction in the number and/or severity of seizures found in some studies supports further investigation into the effects of electrical stimulation on the brain and the continuation of testing in animals and humans.