Robot-assisted stereoelectroencephalography exploration of the limbic thalamus in human focal epilepsy: Implantation technique and complications in the first 24 patients

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE Despite numerous imaging studies highlighting the importance of the thalamus in a patient's surgical prognosis, human electrophysiological studies involving the limbic thalamic nuclei are limited. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and accuracy of robot-assisted stereotactic electrode placement in the limbic thalamic nuclei of patients with suspected temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). METHODS After providing informed consent, 24 adults with drug-resistant, suspected TLE undergoing evaluation with stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) were enrolled in the prospective study. The trajectory of one electrode planned for clinical sampling of the operculoinsular cortex was modified to extend it to the thalamus, thereby preventing the need for additional electrode placement for research. The anterior nucleus of the thalamus (ANT) (n = 13) and the medial group of thalamic nuclei (MED) (n = 11), including the mediodorsal and centromedian nuclei, were targeted. The postimplantation CT scan was coregistered to the preoperative MR image, and Morel's thalamic atlas was used to confirm the accuracy of implantation. RESULTS Ten (77%) of 13 patients in the ANT group and 10 (91%) of 11 patients in the MED group had electrodes accurately placed in the thalamic nuclei. None of the patients had a thalamic hemorrhage. However, trace asymptomatic hemorrhages at the cortical-level entry site were noted in 20.8% of patients, who did not require additional surgical intervention. SEEG data from all the patients were interpretable and analyzable. The trajectories for the ANT implant differed slightly from those of the MED group at the entry point-i.e., the precentral gyrus in the former and the postcentral gyrus in the latter. CONCLUSIONS Using judiciously planned robot-assisted SEEG, the authors demonstrate the safety of electrophysiological sampling from various thalamic nuclei for research recordings, presenting a technique that avoids implanting additional depth electrodes or compromising clinical care. With these results, we propose that if patients are fully informed of the risks involved, there are potential benefits of gaining mechanistic insights to seizure genesis, which may help to develop neuromodulation therapies.
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    Author List

  • Chaitanya G; Romeo AK; Ilyas A; Irannejad A; Toth E; Elsayed G; Bentley JN; Riley KO; Pati S
  • Volume

  • 48
  • Issue

  • 4