Current Directions in Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease—Directing Current to Maximize Clinical Benefit

Aristide Merola*, Alberto Romagnolo, Vibhor Krishna, Srivatsan Pallavaram, Stephen Carcieri, Steven Goetz, George Mandybur, Andrew P. Duker, Brian Dalm, John D. Rolston, Alfonso Fasano, Leo Verhagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Several single-center studies and one large multicenter clinical trial demonstrated that directional deep brain stimulation (DBS) could optimize the volume of tissue activated (VTA) based on the individual placement of the lead in relation to the target. The ability to generate axially asymmetric fields of stimulation translates into a broader therapeutic window (TW) compared to conventional DBS. However, changing the shape and surface of stimulating electrodes (directional segmented vs. conventional ring-shaped) also demands a revision of the programming strategies employed for DBS programming. Model-based approaches have been used to predict the shape of the VTA, which can be visualized on standardized neuroimaging atlases or individual magnetic resonance imaging. While potentially useful for optimizing clinical care, these systems remain limited by factors such as patient-specific anatomical variability, postsurgical lead migrations, and inability to account for individual contact impedances and orientation of the systems of fibers surrounding the electrode. Alternative programming tools based on the functional assessment of stimulation-induced clinical benefits and side effects allow one to collect and analyze data from each electrode of the DBS system and provide an action plan of ranked alternatives for therapeutic settings based on the selection of optimal directional contacts. Overall, an increasing amount of data supports the use of directional DBS. It is conceivable that the use of directionality may reduce the need for complex programming paradigms such as bipolar configurations, frequency or pulse width modulation, or interleaving. At a minimum, stimulation through directional electrodes can be considered as another tool to improve the benefit/side effect ratio. At a maximum, directionality may become the preferred way to program because of its larger TW and lower energy consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalNeurology and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Contact
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Directionality
  • Lead
  • Parkinson disease
  • Programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Current Directions in Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease—Directing Current to Maximize Clinical Benefit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this