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Original research
Ipsilateral and axial tremor response to focused ultrasound thalamotomy for essential tremor: clinical outcomes and probabilistic mapping

Abstract

Background MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for essential tremor (ET).

Objective To investigate the effects of MRgFUS in patients with ET with an emphasis on ipsilateral-hand and axial tremor subscores.

Methods Tremor scores and adverse effects of 100 patients treated between 2012 and 2018 were assessed at 1 week, 3, 12, and 24 months. A subgroup analysis of ipsilateral-hand tremor responders (defined as patients with ≥30% improvement at any time point) and non-responders was performed. Correlations and predictive factors for improvement were analysed. Weighted probabilistic maps of improvement were generated.

Results Significant improvement in axial, contralateral-hand and total tremor scores was observed at all study visits from baseline (p<0.0001). There was no significant improvement in ipsilateral subscores. A subset of patients (n=20) exhibited group-level ipsilateral-hand improvement that remained significant through all follow-ups (p<0.001). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that higher baseline scores predict better improvement in ipsilateral-hand and axial tremor. Probabilistic maps demonstrated that the lesion hotspot for axial improvement was situated more medially than that for contralateral improvement.

Conclusion MRgFUS significantly improved axial, contralateral-hand and total tremor scores. In a subset of patients, a consistent group-level treatment effect was observed for ipsilateral-hand tremor. While ipsilateral improvement seemed to be less directly related to lesion location, a spatial relationship between lesion location and axial and contralateral improvement was observed that proved consistent with the somatotopic organisation of the ventral intermediate nucleus.

Trial registration numbers NCT01932463, NCT01827904, and NCT02252380.

  • TREMOR
  • STEREOTAXIC SURGERY
  • FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER
  • NEUROSURGERY
  • MOVEMENT DISORDERS

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Anonymised data will be shared by request from any qualified investigator.

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