Several recent publications have stated that the use of microelectrode recording (MER) during pallidotomy or deep brain stimulation (DBS) contributes to decreasing risks and side effects of surgery, and that such a technique is a prerequisite for minimizing lesion size and for accurate placement of the stereotactic lesion or the DBS electrode. To evaluate the consistency of these statements, we reviewed hundreds of papers and congress reports on MER- and non-MER-guided procedures published since 1992. This review showed that MER groups published more often than non-MER groups. While side effects of surgery were not uncommon in both groups, the rate of severe complications, such as hematoma, and mortality appeared to be higher when microelectrodes were used, both in ablative surgery and in DBS procedures. Besides, the nonaccurate placement of lesions or DBS electrodes, as assessed on published MRI figures, was not uncommon in MER publications. Lesion volume was, when reported, not different in both techniques. The electrical parameters of stimulation of implanted electrodes in the thalamic ventral intermediate (Vim) nucleus for treatment of tremor were higher in MER-guided surgery. The available literature suggests that MER techniques may increase the risks of surgery without enhancing its accuracy, compared to MRI-based macrostimulation techniques. To date, there is no randomized trial by one and the same group on the use of micro- versus macroelectrodes in surgery for movement disorders. A prerequisite for such a trial in the future must imply that the investigators have an equal nonprejudiced attitude towards, and equal confidence and experience in, either technique. Since such a prerequisite does not exist so far in the functional stereotactic community, a critical and comparative study of the available literature remains the only way to evaluate the pros and cons of either technique, in terms of targeting accuracy and surgical complications.

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