Summary

Objective

We designed a prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind study to evaluate the efficacy of hippocampal deep brain stimulation (Hip-DBS) in patients with refractory temporary lobe epilepsy (TLE).

Methods

Sixteen adult patients with refractory TLE were studied. Patient’s workup included medical history, interictal and ictal electroencephalography (EEG), and high-resolution 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Patients were randomized on a 1:1 proportion to an active (stimulation on) or to a control (no stimulation) arm. After implantation, patients were allowed to recover for 1 month, which was followed by a 1-month titration (or sham) period. The 6-month blinded phase started immediately afterward. A postoperative MRI confirmed the electrode’s position in all patients. All patients received bipolar continuous stimulation. Stimulus duration was 300 μs and frequency was 130 Hz; final intensity was 2 V. Patients were considered responders when they had at least 50% seizure frequency reduction.

Results

All patients had focal impaired awareness seizures (FIAS, complex partial seizures), and 87% had focal aware seizures (FAS, simple partial seizures). Mean preoperative seizure frequency was 12.5 ± 9.4 (mean ± standard deviation) per month. MRI findings were normal in two patients, disclosed bilateral mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) in three, left MTS in five, and right MTS in six patients. An insertional effect could be noted in both control and active patients. In the active group (n = 8), four patients became seizure-free; seven of eight were considered responders and one was a nonresponder. There was a significant difference regarding FIAS frequency between the two groups from the first month of full stimulation (p < 0.001) until the end of the blinded phase (p < 0.001). This was also true for FAS, except for the third month of the blinded phase.

Significance

Hip-DBS was effective in significantly reducing seizure frequency in patients with refractory TLE in the active group, as compared to the control group. Fifty-percent of the patients in the active group became seizure-free. The present study is the larger prospective, controlled, double-blind study to evaluate the effects of Hip-DBS published to date.

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