Supplementary motor area and right dorsal prefrontal cortex activation in Parkinson's disease is selectively impaired during volitional limb movements. Since posteroventral pallidotomy improves motor performance in Parkinson's disease patients 'off' medication (i.e. off medication for 9-12 h), we hypothesized that it would also concomitantly increase supplementary motor area and dorsal prefrontal cortex activation. Six Parkinson's disease patients with a median total motor Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) of 52.5 (range 34-66) 'off' medication underwent unilateral right posteroventral pallidotomy. The patients had H215O PET when 'off' medication before and 3-4 months after surgery. Each PET study comprised four to six measurements of regional cerebral blood flow either at rest or while performing regularly paced joystick movements in freely selected directions (forward, backward, left or right) using the left hand. Pre- and postoperative scans were performed in an identical manner and the associated levels of activation were compared using statistical parametric mapping. After pallidotomy, the median total motor UPDRS score 'off' medication decreased by 34.7% (P = 0.03) and mean response times of joystick movements following the pacing tones improved by 13.8% (P = 0.08). Relative increases in activation of the supplementary motor area and right dorsal prefrontal cortex were observed during joystick movements (P < 0.001). Decreased activation was seen in the region of the right pallidum (P = 0.001). We conclude that pallidotomy reduces pallidal inhibition of thalamocortical circuits and reverses, at least partially the impairment of supplementary motor area and dorsal prefrontal cortex activation associated with Parkinson's disease.
- PET activation
- Parkinson's disease