Choreatic Side Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation of the Anteromedial Subthalamic Nucleus for Treatment-Resistant Obsessive-Compulsive disorder

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BACKGROUND: Patients with treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are potential candidates for deep brain stimulation (DBS). The anteromedial subthalamic nucleus (STN) is among the most commonly used targets for DBS in OCD.

CASE DESCRIPTION: We present a patient with a 30-year history of treatment-resistant OCD who underwent anteromedial STN-DBS. Despite a clear mood-enhancing effect, stimulation caused motor side effects, including bilateral hyperkinesia, dyskinesias, and sudden large amplitude choreatic movements of arms and legs when stimulating at voltages greater than approximately 1.5 V. DBS at lower amplitudes and at other contact points failed to result in a significant reduction of obsessions and compulsions without inducing motor side effects. Because of this limitation in programming options, we decided to reoperate and target the ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS), which resulted in a substantial reduction in key obsessive and compulsive symptoms without serious side effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Choreatic movements and hemiballismus have previously been linked to STN dysfunction and have been incidentally reported as side effects of DBS of the dorsolateral STN in Parkinson disease (PD). However, in PD, these side effects were usually transient, and they rarely interfered with DBS programming. In our patient, the motor side effects were persistent, and they made optimal DBS programming impossible. To our knowledge, such severe and persistent motor side effects have not been described previously for anteromedial STN-DBS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048.e9-1048.313
Number of pages5
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Side effects
  • Subthalamic nucleus
  • Ventral capsule/ventral striatum

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