Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
2024 Apr 26.doi: 10.1002/acn3.52067. Online ahead of print.

Aurelie LeplusPetru IsanAnne BalossierSarah MouffokAnne DonnetTheodore PapadopouloMichel Lanteri-MinetJean RegisDenys Fontaine


Objective: The sensory ventroposterior (VP) thalamic nuclei display a mediolateral somatotopic organization (respectively head, arm, and leg). We studied this somatotopy using directional VP deep brain stimulation (DBS) in patients treated for chronic neuropathic pain.

Methods: Six patients with central (four) or peripheral (two) neuropathic pain were treated by VP DBS using directional leads in a prospective study ( NCT03399942). Lead-DBS toolbox was used for leads localization, visualization, and modeling of the volume of tissue activated (VTA). Stimulation was delivered in each direction, 1 month after surgery and correlated to the location of stimulation-induced paresthesias. The somatotopy was modeled by correlating the respective locations of paresthesias and VTAs. We recorded 48 distinct paresthesia maps corresponding to 48 VTAs (including 36 related to directional stimulation).

Results: We observed that, in each patient, respective body representations of the trunk, upper limb, lower limb, and head were closely located around the lead. These representations differed across patients, did not follow a common organization and were not concordant with the previously described somatotopic organization of the sensory thalamus.

Interpretation: Thalamic reorganization has been reported in chronic pain patients compared to non-pain patients operated for movement disorders in previous studies using intraoperative recordings and micro-stimulation. Using a different methodology, namely 3D representation of the VTA by the directional postoperative stimulation through a stationary electrode, our study brings additional arguments in favor of a reorganization of the VP thalamic somatotopy in patients suffering from chronic neuropathic pain of central or peripheral origin.


Somatotopy of the sensory thalamus: inputs from directional deep brain stimulation in pain patients