Magnetic resonance imaging techniques for visualization of the subthalamic nucleus

Ellen J. L. Brunenberg*, Bram Platel, Paul A. M. Hofman, Bart M. ter Haar Romeny, Veerle Visser-Vandewalle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Web of Science)


The authors reviewed 70 publications on MR imaging-based targeting techniques for identifying the subthalamic nucleus (STN) for deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson disease. Of these 70 publications, 33 presented quantitatively validated results. There is still no consensus on which targeting technique to use for surgery planning; methods vary greatly between centers. Some groups apply indirect methods involving anatomical landmarks, or atlases incorporating anatomical or functional data. Others perform direct visualization on MR imaging, using T2-weighted spin echo or inversion recovery protocols. The combined studies do not offer a straightforward conclusion on the best targeting protocol. Indirect methods are not patient specific, leading to varying results between cases. On the other hand, direct targeting on MR imaging suffers from lack of contrast within the subthalamic region, resulting in a poor delineation of the STN. These deficiencies result in a need for intraoperative adaptation of the original target based on test stimulation with or without microelectrode recording. It is expected that future advances in MR imaging technology will lead to improvements in direct targeting. The use of new MR imaging modalities such as diffusion MR imaging might even lead to the specific identification of the different functional parts of the STN, such as the dorsolateral sensorimotor part, the target for deep brain stimulation. (DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.JNS101571)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-984
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • deep brain stimulation
  • targeting
  • subthalamic nucleus
  • MR imaging
  • functional neurosurgery

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