Artifacts Can Be Deceiving: The Actual Location of Deep Brain Stimulation Electrodes Differs from the Artifact Seen on Magnetic Resonance Images

Noa B. Nuzov, Bhumi Bhusal, Kaylee R. Henry, Fuchang Jiang, Jasmine Vu, Joshua M. Rosenow, Julie G. Pilitsis, Behzad Elahi, Laleh Golestanirad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a common treatment for a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Recent studies have highlighted the role of neuroimaging in localizing the position of electrode contacts relative to target brain areas in order to optimize DBS programming. Among different imaging methods, postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been widely used for DBS electrode localization; however, the geometrical distortion induced by the lead limits its accuracy. In this work, we investigated to what degree the difference between the actual location of the lead's tip and the location of the tip estimated from the MRI artifact varies depending on the MRI sequence parameters such as acquisition plane and phase encoding direction, as well as the lead's extracranial configuration. Accordingly, an imaging technique to increase the accuracy of lead localization was devised and discussed. Methods: We designed and constructed an anthropomorphic phantom with an implanted DBS system following 18 clinically relevant configurations. The phantom was scanned at a Siemens 1.5 Tesla Aera scanner using a T1MPRAGE sequence optimized for clinical use and a T1TSE sequence optimized for research purposes. We varied slice acquisition plane and phase encoding direction and calculated the distance between the caudal tip of the DBS lead MRI artifact and the actual tip of the lead, as estimated from MRI reference markers. Results: Imaging parameters and lead configuration substantially altered the difference in the depth of the lead within its MRI artifact on the scale of several millimeters-with a difference as large as 4.99 mm. The actual tip of the DBS lead was found to be consistently more rostral than the tip estimated from the MR image artifact. The smallest difference between the tip of the DBS lead and the tip of the MRI artifact using the clinically relevant sequence (i.e., T1MPRAGE) was found with the sagittal acquisition plane and anterior-posterior phase encoding direction. Discussion/Conclusion: The actual tip of an implanted DBS lead is located up to several millimeters rostral to the tip of the lead's artifact on postoperative MR images. This distance depends on the MRI sequence parameters and the DBS system's extracranial trajectory. MRI parameters may be altered to improve this localization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalStereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • Anthropomorphic phantom
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Electrode localization
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging artifact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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