Background: No prospective study of gamma knife thalamotomy for intractable tremor has previously been reported.
Objective: To clarify the safety and optimally effective conditions for performing unilateral gamma knife (GK) thalamotomy for tremors of Parkinson disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET), a systematic postirradiation 24-month follow-up study was conducted at 6 institutions. We present the results of this multicenter collaborative trial.
Methods: In total, 72 patients (PD characterized by tremor, n = 59; ET, n = 13) were registered at 6 Japanese institutions. Following our selective thalamotomy procedure, the lateral part of the ventralis intermedius nucleus, 45% of the thalamic length from the anterior tip, was selected as the GK isocenter. A single 130-Gy shot was applied using a 4-mm collimator. Evaluation included neurological examination, magnetic resonance imaging and/or computerized tomography, the unified Parkinson's disease rating scale (UPDRS), electromyography, medication change, and video observations.
Results: Final clinical effects were favorable. Of 53 patients who completed 24 months of follow-up, 43 were evaluated as having excellent or good results (81.1%). UPDRS scores showed tremor improvement (parts II and III). Thalamic lesion size fluctuated but converged to either an almost spherical shape (65.6%), a sphere with streaking (23.4%), or an extended high-signal zone (10.9%). No permanent clinical complications were observed.
Conclusion: GK thalamotomy is an alternative treatment for intractable tremors of PD as well as for ET. Less invasive intervention may be beneficial to patients.