Object: The goal of this report was to describe the safety and effectiveness of nucleus ventralis intermedius (VIM) thalamotomy performed with the Leksell Gamma Knife (GK) for the treatment of essential tremor (ET).
Methods: One hundred seventy-two patients underwent a total of 214 VIM thalamotomy procedures with the Leksell GK between February 1994 and March 2007 for treatment of disabling ET. Eleven patients were lost to follow-up less than 1 year after the procedures, so that in this report the authors describe the results in 161 patients who underwent a total of 203 thalamotomies (119 unilateral and 42 bilateral).
Results: There were statistically significant decreases (p < 0.0001) in tremor scores for both writing and drawing. The mean postoperative follow-up duration for all patients was 44 +/- 33 months. Fifty-four patients have been followed for more than 60 months posttreatment. There were 14 patients who suffered neurological side effects that were temporary (6) or permanent (8), which accounted for 6.9% of the 203 treatments. All complications were related to lesions that grew larger than expected.
Conclusions: A VIM thalamotomy with the Leksell GK offers a safe and effective alternative for surgical treatment of ET. It is particularly applicable to patients who are not ideal candidates for deep brain stimulation but can be offered to all patients who are considering surgical intervention for ET.