Long-term efficacy of thalamic deep brain stimulation for tremor: double-blind assessments

Mov Disord. 2003 Feb;18(2):163-70. doi: 10.1002/mds.10309.


Thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) is proven to suppress tremor in Parkinson's disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET). However, there are few reports on its long-term efficacy. We studied the efficacy of DBS at 2 years and 6-7 years after electrode implantations in the ventrointermediate nucleus of the thalamus in 39 patients (20 PD, 19 ET) with severe tremor. Twenty-five of the patients completed the study. Evaluations were done in a double-blind manner with the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and Essential Tremor Rating Scale (ETRS). DBS decreased tremor sum scores in PD (P < 0.025) compared to the preoperative baseline (median, 7; Q25-75, 6-9) both at 2 years (median, 2; Q25-75, 2-3.5; n = 16) and at 6 to 7 years (median, 2.5; Q25-75, 0.5-3; n = 12). Stimulation on improved tremor sum as well as sub scores (P < 0.025) compared to stimulation off conditions. In ET, thalamic stimulation improved (P < 0.025) kinetic and positional tremor at both follow-up periods (n = 18 and n = 13, respectively) with significant improvements (P < 0.025) in hand-function tests. PD but not ET patients showed a general disease progression. Stimulation parameters were remarkably stable over time. We conclude that high-frequency electric thalamic stimulation can efficiently suppress severe tremor in PD and ET more than 6 years after permanent implantation of brain electrodes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disease Progression
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Essential Tremor / epidemiology
  • Essential Tremor / etiology
  • Essential Tremor / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Time