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Deep brain stimulation as a treatment for neuropathic pain: a longitudinal study addressing neuropsychological outcomes

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  • Alan Gray
  • Elizabeth Pounds-Cornish
  • Fiona Eccles
  • Tipu Aziz
  • Alexander Green
  • Richard B Scott
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>The Journal of Pain
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)283-292
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the periventricular/periaqueductal grey (PVG/PAG) area and sensory thalamus (ST) can reduce pain intensity in patients with neuropathic pain. However, little is known about its impact on quality of life, emotional well-being, and cognition. This study followed up 18 patients who had received DBS for neuropathic pain. Each participant had previously undergone psychometric evaluation of each of the above areas as part of a routine pre-surgical neuropsychological assessment. Commensurate measures were employed at a follow-up assessment at least 6 months post-surgery. DBS significantly improved mood, anxiety, and aspects of quality of life. Improvements correlated with reduced pain severity. However, the sample continued to show impairments in most areas when compared against normative data published on non-clinical samples. There was little change in general cognitive functioning, aside from deterioration in spatial working memory. However, improvements in pain severity were associated with less improvement (and even deterioration) on measures of executive cognitive functioning. Improvements in emotional well-being also correlated with changes in cognition. These results suggest that DBS of the PVG/PAG and/or ST improves quality of life and emotional well-being in sufferers, although there is some indication of executive dysfunction particularly amongst those reporting greatest pain alleviation.