A prospective trial of magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy for essential tremor: Results at the 2-year follow-up.

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Annals of neurology


Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Disability Evaluation; Essential Tremor; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Gait Disorders, Neurologic; Hand; Humans; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Male; Middle Aged; Neurosurgical Procedures; Paresthesia; Posture; Prospective Studies; Surgery, Computer-Assisted; Thalamus; Treatment Outcome; Ultrasonography, Interventional


OBJECTIVE: Magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) has recently been investigated as a new treatment modality for essential tremor (ET), but the durability of the procedure has not yet been evaluated. This study reports results at a 2- year follow-up after MRgFUS thalamotomy for ET.

METHODS: A total of 76 patients with moderate-to-severe ET, who had not responded to at least two trials of medical therapy, were enrolled in the original randomized study of unilateral thalamotomy and evaluated using the clinical rating scale for tremor. Sixty-seven of the patients continued in the open-label extension phase of the study with monitoring for 2 years. Nine patients were excluded by 2 years, for example, because of alternative therapy such as deep brain stimulation (n = 3) or inadequate thermal lesioning (n = 1). However, all patients in each follow-up period were analyzed.

RESULTS: Mean hand tremor score at baseline (19.8 ± 4.9; 76 patients) improved by 55% at 6 months (8.6 ± 4.5; 75 patients). The improvement in tremor score from baseline was durable at 1 year (53%; 8.9 ± 4.8; 70 patients) and at 2 years (56%; 8.8 ± 5.0; 67 patients). Similarly, the disability score at baseline (16.4 ± 4.5; 76 patients) improved by 64% at 6 months (5.4 ± 4.7; 75 patients). This improvement was also sustained at 1 year (5.4 ± 5.3; 70 patients) and at 2 years (6.5 ± 5.0; 67 patients). Paresthesias and gait disturbances were the most common adverse effects at 1 year-each observed in 10 patients with an additional 5 patients experiencing neurological adverse effects. None of the adverse events worsened over the period of follow-up, and 2 of these resolved. There were no new delayed complications at 2 years.

INTERPRETATION: Tremor suppression after MRgFUS thalamotomy for ET is stably maintained at 2 years. Latent or delayed complications do not develop after treatment. Ann Neurol 2018;83:107-114.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)