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August 18, 1962

Cryogenic Surgery of the Basal Ganglia

Author Affiliations

New York City
Director, Department of Neurosurgery, St. Barnabas Hospital.

JAMA. 1962;181(7):600-604. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050330030006

Apparatus for the highly localized application of cold at various degrees from room temperature down to —190° C. (—310° F.) makes it possible to cause either temporary paralysis or permanent destruction of selected portions of the nervous system. The technique of cryogenic surgery consists of first applying moderate cold to identify the locus of abnormal neural activity and then intense cold to make a circumscribed lesion there. This paper reports the results of 2,060 applications of cryogenic surgery for the relief of the tremor and rigidity of parkinsonism and 150 applications for relief of other dystonic or hyperkinetic disorders. Since the lesion produced in the brain is sharply delimited and essentially nonhemorrhagic, the incidence of complications has been low, and in a series of 100 consecutive cases there was relief of symptoms in 90 cases with no deaths.