Video_1_Globus Pallidus Internus Deep Brain Stimulation for Dystonic Opisthotonus in Adult-Onset Dystonia: A Personalized Approach.MP4 (29.2 MB)
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Video_1_Globus Pallidus Internus Deep Brain Stimulation for Dystonic Opisthotonus in Adult-Onset Dystonia: A Personalized Approach.MP4

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posted on 10.06.2021, 04:51 authored by Kantharuby Tambirajoo, Luciano Furlanetti, Michael Samuel, Keyoumars Ashkan

Dystonic opisthotonus is defined as a backward arching of the neck and trunk, which ranges in severity from mild backward jerks to life-threatening prolonged severe muscular spasms. It can be associated with generalized dystonic syndromes or, rarely, present as a form of axial truncal dystonia. The etiologies vary from idiopathic, genetic, tardive, hereditary-degenerative, or associated with parkinsonism. We report clinical cases of dystonic opisthotonus associated with adult-onset dystonic syndromes, that benefitted from globus pallidus internus (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS).


Clinical data from patients with dystonic syndromes who underwent comprehensive medical review, multidisciplinary assessment, and tailored medical and neurosurgical managements were prospectively analyzed. Quantification of dystonia severity pre- and postoperatively was performed using the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale and quantification of overall pain severity was performed using the Visual Analog Scale.


Three male patients, with age of onset of the dystonic symptoms ranging from 32 to 51 years old, were included. Tardive dystonia, adult-onset dystonia-parkinsonism and adult-onset idiopathic axial dystonia were the etiologies identified. Clinical investigation and management were tailored according to the complexity of the individual presentations. Although they shared common clinical features of adult-onset dystonia, disabling dystonic opisthotonus, refractory to medical management, was the main indication for GPi-DBS in all patients presented. The severity of axial dystonia ranged from disturbance of daily function to life-threatening truncal distortion. All three patients underwent bilateral GPi DBS at a mean age of 52 years (range 48–55 years), after mean duration of symptoms prior to DBS of 10.7 years (range 4–16 years). All patients showed a rapid and sustained clinical improvement of their symptoms, notably of the dystonic opisthotonos, at postoperative follow-up ranging from 20 to 175 months. In some, the ability to resume activities of daily living and reintegration into the society was remarkable.


Adult-onset dystonic syndromes predominantly presenting with dystonic opisthotonus are relatively rare. The specific nature of dystonic opisthotonus remains a treatment challenge, and thorough investigation of this highly disabling condition with varying etiologies is often necessary. Although patients may be refractory to medical management and botulinum toxin injection, Globus pallidus stimulation timed and tailored provided symptomatic control in this cohort and may be considered in other carefully selected cases.