Failure of deep brain stimulation of the posterior inferior hypothalamus in chronic cluster headache - report of two cases and review of the literature.

Research paper by M O MO Pinsker, T T Bartsch, D D Falk, J J Volkmann, J J Herzog, F F Steigerwald, H C HC Diener, G G Deuschl, M M Mehdorn

Indexed on: 30 Apr '08Published on: 30 Apr '08Published in: Zentralblatt fur Neurochirurgie


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become a standard procedure for movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, essential tremor or dystonia. Recently, deep brain stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus has been shown to be effective in the treatment of drug-resistant chronic cluster headache.DBS of the posterior inferior hypothalamus was performed on two patients with chronic cluster headaches, one 55-year-old man with medically intractable chronic cluster headache since 1996, and one 31-year-old woman with a chronic form since 2002. Both patients showed continuous worsening headaches in the last years despite high dose medical treatment. The patients fulfilled the published criteria for DBS in chronic cluster headaches. Electrodes were implanted stereotactically in the ipsilateral posterior hypothalamus according to the published coordinates (2 mm lateral, 3 mm posterior, 5 mm inferior) referenced to the mid-AC-PC line.The intra- and postoperative course was uneventful and postoperative MRI control documented regular position of the DBS electrodes. The current stimulation parameters were at 12 months postoperatively 0 neg., G pos.; 5.5 V; 60 micros; 180 Hz (Case 1) and 0 neg., G pos.; 3.0 V; 60 micros; 185 Hz, at 3 months postoperatively (Case 2). Surgery- or stimulation-related side effects were not observed. Both patients showed initial pain reduction in the first days whereas 12 respectively 3 month follow-up did not show a significant reduction in attack frequency or intensity.Deep brain stimulation of the posterior inferior hypothalamus is an experimental procedure and should be restricted to selected therapy-refractory patients and should be performed in centers experienced in patient selection and performance of DBS as well as postoperative pain treatment. A prospective multi-centre study is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness.