Surgical treatments for dystonia have been available since the early 20th century, but have improved in their efficacy to adversity ratio through a combination of technologic advances and better understanding of the role of the basal ganglia in dystonia. The word "dystonia" describes a phenotype of involuntary movement that may manifest from a variety of conditions. Dystonia may affect only certain regions of the body or may be generalized. It appears to be critical to determine whether the etiology underlying the dystonia is "primary" (ie, occurring from a genetic or idiopathic origin) or "secondary" (ie, occurring as a result of structural, metabolic, or neurodegenerative disorders). Secondary dystonias are far more common than primary dystonias. Primary dystonias respond well to pallidotomy or deep brain stimulation of the internal segment of the globus pallidum, whereas secondary dystonias appear to respond partially at best. Limited historic and current data suggest that the thalamus may be a promising target for the treatment of secondary dystonias, but more careful, prospective, randomized studies are needed. Combinations of bilateral targets are possible with the current technology of DBS, but not widely used due to surgical morbidity and expense. This article reviews the surgical treatment of dystonia from past to present, with a focus on separating the outcomes for primary versus secondary and generalized versus cervical dystonia.
View details for PubMedID 12930699