Comparison of thalamotomy to deep brain stimulation of the thalamus in essential tremor

Mov Disord. 2001 Jan;16(1):140-3. doi: 10.1002/1531-8257(200101)16:1<140::aid-mds1025>;2-t.


Objective: To compare outcome in Essential Tremor (ET) patients who have undergone either thalamotomy or Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus.

Background: Although both thalamotomy and thalamic DBS are effective surgical treatments of tremor, it is not known if one procedure is superior to the other.

Design/methods: Thirty-five ET patients underwent thalamotomy between 1994-1998. Data on 18 patients were excluded. The remaining 17 patients were matched for age, sex, side of surgery, and tremor severity to 17 ET patients who underwent thalamic DBS. There were nine men and eight women in each group. The mean age of the thalamotomy group was 74.4 years and that of the thalamic DBS group was 73.1 years.

Results: There were no significant differences between any efficacy outcome variables comparing thalamotomy to DBS of the thalamus at baseline or follow-up visits. The surgical complications were higher for the thalamotomy group as compared to the DBS group. However, a larger number of DBS patients underwent repeat surgeries due to problems with the device and the leads.

Conclusion: Although the efficacy is similar for thalamotomy and DBS of the thalamus for ET, thalamotomy is associated with a higher complication rate. DBS of the thalamus should be the procedure of choice for the surgical treatment of ET in most cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Essential Tremor / diagnosis
  • Essential Tremor / surgery
  • Essential Tremor / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Thalamus / surgery*