Asleep DBS under ketamine sedation: Proof of concept

Halen Baker Erdman*, Evgeniya Kornilov, Eilat Kahana, Omer Zarchi, Johnathan Reiner, Achinoam Socher, Ido Strauss, Shimon Firman, Zvi Israel, Hagai Bergman, Idit Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is commonly and safely performed for selective Parkinson's disease patients. Many centers perform DBS lead positioning exclusively under local anesthesia, to optimize brain microelectrode recordings (MER) and testing of stimulation-related therapeutic and side effects. These measures enable physiological identification of the DBS borders and subdomains based on electrophysiological properties like firing rates and patterns, intra-operative evaluation of therapeutic window, and improvement of lead placement accuracy. Nevertheless, due to the challenges of awake surgery, some centers use sedation or general anesthesia, despite the distortion of discharge properties and interference with clinical testing, resulting in potential impact on surgical outcomes. Thus, there is a need for a novel anesthesia regimen that enables sedation without compromising intra-operative monitoring. Objective: This open-label study investigates the use of low-dose ketamine for conscious sedation during microelectrode recordings and lead positioning in subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS for Parkinson's disease patients. Methods: Three anesthetic regimens were retrospectively compared in 38 surgeries (74 MER trajectories, 5962 recording sites) across three DBS centers: 1) Interleaved propofol-ketamine (PK), 2) Interleaved propofol-awake (PA), and 3) Fully awake (AA). Results: All anesthesia regimens achieved satisfactory MER. Detection of STN borders and subdomains by expert electrophysiologist was similar between the groups. Electrophysiological signature of the STN under ketamine was not inferior to either control group. All patients completed stimulation testing. Conclusions: This study supports a low-dose ketamine anesthesia regimen for DBS which allows microelectrode recordings and stimulation testing that are not inferior to those conducted under awake and propofol-awake regimens and may optimize patient experience. A prospective double-blind study that would also compare patients' satisfaction level and clinical outcome should be performed to confirm these findings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105747
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Aug 2022

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  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ketamine
  • MER
  • Parkinson's disease


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