Subthalamic stimulation may inhibit the beneficial effects of levodopa on akinesia and gait

Vanessa Fleury, Pierre Pollak, Julien Gere, Giorgio Tommasi, Luigi Romito, Christophe Combescure, Eric Bardinet, Stephan Chabardes, Shahan Momjian, Alexandre Krainik, Pierre Burkhard, Jérôme Yelnik, Paul Krack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Gait and akinesia deterioration in PD patients during the immediate postoperative period of DBS has been directly related to stimulation in the subthalamic region. The underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to clinically and anatomically describe this side effect. Methods: PD patients presenting with a worsening of gait and/or akinesia following STN-DBS, that was reversible on stimulation arrest were included. The evaluation included (1) a Stand Walk Sit Test during a monopolar survey of each electrode in the on-drug condition; (2) a 5-condition test with the following conditions: off-drug/off-DBS, off-drug/on-best-compromise-DBS, on-drug/off-DBS, on-drug/on-best-compromise-DBS, and on-drug/on-worsening-DBS, which utilized the contact inducing the most prominent gait deterioration. The following scales were performed: UPDRSIII subscores, Stand Walk Sit Test, and dyskinesia and freezing of gait scales. Localization of contacts was performed using a coregistration method. Results: Twelve of 17 patients underwent the complete evaluation. Stimulation of the most proximal contacts significantly slowed down the Stand Walk Sit Test. The on-drug/on-worsening-DBS condition compared with the on-drug/off-DBS condition worsened akinesia (P = 0.02), Stand Walk Sit Test (P = 0.001), freezing of gait (P = 0.02), and improved dyskinesias (P = 0.003). Compared with the off-drug/off-DBS condition, the on-drug/on-worsening-DBS condition improved rigidity (P = 0.007) and tremor (P = 0.007). Worsening contact sites were predominantly dorsal and anterior to the STN in the anterior zona incerta and Forel fields H2. Conclusions: A paradoxical deterioration of gait and akinesia is a rare side effect following STN-DBS. We propose that this may be related to misplaced contacts, and we discuss the pathophysiology and strategies to identify and manage this complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1397
Number of pages9
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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