Supplementary Material for: The Pioneering and Unknown Stereotactic Approach of Roeder and Orthner from Göttingen. Part II: Long-Term Outcome and Postmortem Analysis of Bilateral Pallidotomy in the Pre-Levodopa Era

Before the advent of levodopa, pallidotomy was initially the most effective treatment for Parkinson disease, but it was soon superseded by thalamotomy. It is widely unknown that, similar to Leksell, 2 neurologists from Göttingen, Orthner and Roeder, perpetuated pallidotomy against the mainstream of their time. Postmortem studies demonstrated that true posterior and ventral pallidoansotomy sparing the overwhelming mass of the pallidum was accomplished. This was due to a unique and individually tailored stereotactic technique even allowing bilateral staged pallidotomies. In 1962, the long-term effects (3-year follow-up on average) of the first 18 out of 36 patients with staged bilateral pallidotomies were reported in great detail. Meticulous descriptions of each case indicate long-term improvements in parkinsonian rigidity and associated pain, as well as posture, gait, and akinesia (e.g., improved repetitive movements and arm swinging). Alleviation of tremor was found to require larger lesions than needed for suppression of rigidity. No improvement in speech, drooling, or seborrhea was observed. By 1962, the team had operated 13 patients with postencephalitic oculogyric crises with remarkable results (mean follow-up: 5 years). They also described alleviation of nonparkinsonian hyperkinetic disorders (e.g., hemiballism and chorea) with pallidotomy. The reported rates for surgical mortality and other complications had been remarkably low, even if compared to those reported after the revival of pallidotomy by Laitinen in the post-levodopa era. This applies also to bilateral pallidotomy performed with a positive risk-benefit ratio that has remained unparalleled to date. The intricate history of pallidotomy for movement disorders is incomplete without an appreciation of the achievements of the Göttingen group.