The University Department of Stereotactic Neurosurgery was established in the local university hospital in 2008. In terms of concept, this department is very closely linked to the local University Department for Neurology, the Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Magdeburg.
“Stereotaxis”, a minimally-invasive neurosurgical method, makes it possible to undertake surgical interventions even in functionally critical parts of the brain. Established applications include the sampling of tissue for diagnosing intracerebral diseases of uncertain seat, the treatment of inoperable brain tumors after stereotactically-guided intratumoral implantation of small radiation sources (iodine-125 seeds) followed by local high-dose radiation (brachytherapy), and the treatment of selected neuropsychiatric disorders. For the latter area of application, as a general rule stimulation systems are implanted that modulate the nerve cell activity directly within the brain via locally-acting weak electrical impulses (deep brain stimulation (DBS)), in the spinal cord (spinal cord stimulation), or through contact with peripheral nerves. In the case of DBS, the continual administration of high-frequency electrical impulses at low electrical current from electrodes implanted within the brain very probably normalizes the pathologically altered rhythm of neuronal activity within relay cores or neuronal networks in the brain, and thus improves the symptoms of several neuropsychiatric disorders. The treatment of Parkinson’s disease, dystonia (e.g. torsion dystonia, torticollis) and tremor with DBS is firmly established. DBS may also be used for the treatment of patients with severe OCD or refractory epilepsy. The so-called “ablative stereotaxis” (small-scale, local destruction of brain tissue using suitable radiofrequency thermal probes) is only used in selected epilepsy patients, for whom the onset of epileptic seizures can be clearly linked to an intracerebral pathology (nodular heterotopia, focal cortical dysplasia, hamartoma).
The main areas of application for epidural spinal cord stimulation are neuropathic pain syndrome or peripheral arterial occlusive disease. Indications for neuromodulation via peripheral nerves are selected pain disorders (e.g. stimulation of the occipital nerve in cluster headaches), refractory epilepsies (stimulation of the vagus nerve as an alternative to DBS) or the implantation of neuroprosthetics for the treatment of so-called foot drop (paresis of the tibialis anterior muscle) after stroke.
Key areas of research, which are pursued in collaboration with the institutions mentioned at the beginning of this page, the local University Department of Psychiatry, the Pediatric Department or external cooperation partners, are the use of DBS in severe addiction, dementia, atypical Parkinson’s syndromes (sub-project of SFB779 “Neurology of Motivated Behavior”), rare forms of dystonia (e.g. infantile cerebral paresis, Huntington’s disease), or for optimizing epilepsy treatment (external cooperation partners: Berlin-Brandenburg Epilepsy Center, Department of Neurology, Charité - University of Berlin).