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Deep Brain Stimulation for Cervical Dystonia

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00105430
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : March 14, 2005
Last Update Posted : July 6, 2006
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Brief Summary:

This study will evaluate the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in treating primary generalized dystonia. Patients with dystonia have muscle spasms that cause uncontrolled twisting and repetitive movement or abnormal postures. Medical therapies are available, but not all patients get adequate relief from the abnormal movements or the pain associated with them. DBS is a surgical procedure that interrupts neuronal circuits in the Gpi and STN, areas of the basal ganglia of the brain that do not work correctly in patients with dystonia. The surgery results in decreased movement and therefore may lessen patients' symptoms and pain.

Patients 7 years of age and older with generalized dystonia that does not respond to medical treatment may be eligible for this study. Candidates are screened with blood and urine tests, chest x-ray, and an electrocardiogram in patients 35 years of age or more.

Participants undergo the following tests and procedures:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging. MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the brain. The patient lies on a table that is moved into the scanner (a narrow cylinder), wearing earplugs to muffle loud knocking and thumping sounds that occur during the scanning process. The procedure usually lasts about 45 to 90 minutes, during which the patient is asked to lie still for up to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation. This procedure maps brain function. A wire coil is held on the scalp, and a brief electrical current is passed through the coil, creating a magnetic pulse that stimulates the brain. During the stimulation, the patient may be asked to tense certain muscles slightly or perform other simple actions. The stimulation may cause a twitch in muscles of the face, arm, or leg, and the patient may hear a click and feel a pulling sensation on the skin under the coil. During the stimulation, electrical activity of muscles is recorded with a computer, using electrodes attached to the skin with tape.
  • Neurologic evaluation. Before and after DBS, the patient's dystonia, including voice strength and difficulty swallowing, are measured with a standardized rating scale.
  • DBS treatment. Patients are randomly assigned to have electrodes implanted in either the Gpi or STN area of the basal ganglia. The electrodes are what stimulate the brain in DBS therapy. Before surgery, a frame is secured to the patient's head, and an MRI scan is done. DBS involves making two small incisions and two small holes in the skull, opening the lining around the brain, locating the Gpi or STN, securing the electrodes in place and connecting them to the pulse generator that is placed under the skin below the collar bone. Additionally, during the surgery, the patient is asked to move certain muscles. The muscle activity is recorded to gain a better understanding of the physiology of movement. After surgery, computed tomography (CT) and MRI scans are done to confirm placement of the electrodes.
  • Stimulation and evaluation. After surgery, patients' movements are evaluated during and after stimulation. The changes in movement and function are videotaped and scored according to a rating scale. The optimal stimulation settings are determined and the stimulators are adjusted accordingly.
  • Follow-up. Patients are evaluated, with videotaping, at 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after surgery, and the stimulators are adjusted as needed.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Dystonia Generalized Primary Dystonia Procedure: Deep Brain Stimulation Phase 2

Detailed Description:


For dystonic patients who have failed medical therapy, stereotactic deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the globus pallidus interna (Gpi) or subthalamic nucleus (STN) can provide significant symptom improvement, but it is not known which site provides maximum benefit or the physiologic mechanisms by which these improvements may occur. The study goals are to determine if DBS of Gpi or STN provides significant clinical improvement in patients with primary generalized dystonia, whether the anatomic DBS site (if either) provides optimal improvement, and to gain deeper insight into the underlying pathophysiology of this disorder.


Adult and pediatric patients with medically refractory primary generalized dystonia will make-up the study population. Patients with primary generalized dystonia suffer a wide range of symptoms including physical deformity, speech difficulties, swallowing dysfunction, visual problems, and intractable pain, which can result in an inability to care for themselves. Moreover, pediatric primary generalized dystonia patients will often have abnormal skeletal development (scoliosis) resulting from the abnormal forces placed on the skeleton by dystonic muscle contractions.


We propose placing DBS electrodes (using microelectrode guidance) bilaterally into either the Gpi or STN of medically refractory dystonia patients. Physiological studies will be performed and compared with clinical changes to understand the mechanism of action of DBS and underlying pathophysiology of dystonia.


Clinical effectiveness of DBS of the Gpi or STN will be measured by the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Scale (BFM) and monitored over time to determine the effectiveness of DBS and if there is an ideal anatomic stimulation site. Electrophysiologic outcome measures will be obtained to determine the underlying pathophysiology of dystonia, and the mechanism of action of DBS.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Enrollment : 40 participants
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Deep Brain Stimulation of the Globus Pallidus Interna or the Subthalamic Nucleus for Treatment of Generalized Primary Dystonia
Study Start Date : March 2005
Study Completion Date : July 2006

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Clinical effectiveness of DBS of the Gpi or STN will be measured by the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Scale (BFM) and monitored over time to determine the effectiveness DBS and if there is an ideal anatomic stimulation site.@@@@@@@@@

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Determine the underlying pathophysiology of dystonia, and the mechanism of action of DBS.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   7 Years to 70 Years   (Child, Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

To be eligible for entry into the study, candidates must meet all the following criteria:

  1. Patients greater than 7 years of age with generalized primary dystonia.
  2. Patients who are refractory to medical treatment (including levodopa, anticholinergics, benzodiazepines, Baclofen) who are considered surgical candidates. Patients will be determined to have medical refractory dystonia after having been treated by at least two medications of two different groups at the maximum recommended dose for a duration of at least two months.
  3. In case of treatment by intrathecal Baclofen delivered by a pump, a change to oral Baclofen must be performed, so that the pump can be taken out.
  4. Patients must have a minimum BFM score of 20 on optimal medical therapy.
  5. Adults must be mentally competent to consent for entrance into the protocol at the time of admission.
  6. Patients must have a signed DPA for research purposes.


Candidates will be excluded if:

  1. The patient has had previous lesioning surgery including radiofrequency lesioning of deep nuclei (thalamus, pallidum, STN).
  2. The patient currently has a functioning and effective stimulator in deep brain nuclei (thalamus, pallidum, STN).
  3. The patient is not able to tolerate surgery, as determined by the preoperative evaluation.
  4. The patient has a coagulopathy demonstrated by an abnormal prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, or thrombocytopenia (platelet count less than 150,000 platelets/mm(3)).
  5. The patient has an acute or untreated infection (viral, bacterial or fungal).
  6. The patient has a contraindication to MR-imaging such as previous surgery that involved placement of metal objects that could cause tissue damage or produce image artifacts.
  7. The patient has another chronic neurologic disorder.
  8. The patient is pregnant at the time of surgery.
  9. The patient has epilepsy.
  10. The patient does not have access to proper follow-up care at home and may not be eligible for the study.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00105430

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United States, Maryland
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Layout table for additonal information Identifier: NCT00105430    
Other Study ID Numbers: 050111
First Posted: March 14, 2005    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: July 6, 2006
Last Verified: July 2006
Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Generalized Primary Dystonia
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Dystonic Disorders
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Movement Disorders
Central Nervous System Diseases