Research news: February 2009
A second randomised trial has confirmed that deep brain stimulation is an effective treatment for severe Parkinson’s disease that improves both symptoms and quality of life. Patients treated with bilateral deep brain stimulation improved significantly more over six months than controls given best medical treatment—they reported an extra 4.5 hours of unimpaired motor function a day (95% confidence interval 3.7 to 5.4, P<0.001). This trial and the one before it suggest that deep brain stimulation is the most important new treatment for severe Parkinson’s disease since levodopa, says an editorial (p 104).
Adverse events were common, however, and the invasive treatment was associated with a higher incidence of serious events than medical treatment (49/122 v 15/134, P<0.001). Infections were the most common serious complication of surgery (9.9%). One patient died of a cerebral haemorrhage after implantation of the bilateral leads. Patients treated with deep brain stimulation had more