Voice Tremor in Patients with Essential Tremor: Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation of Caudal Zona Incerta

J Voice. 2016 Mar;30(2):228-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 May 20.


Objectives: The present study aimed at evaluating the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the caudal zona incerta (cZi) on voice tremor in patients with essential tremor (ET).

Study design: This is a prospective nonrandomized design with consecutive patients.

Methods: Twenty-six patients operated with cZi DBS were evaluated under two conditions: without stimulation (Stim OFF) and with stimulation (Stim ON). Voice tremor was assessed on the basis of recordings of sustained vowel productions using a four-point rating scale in a blinded and randomized procedure. Averaged values of multiple assessments for each stimulus were used in statistical testing. The group of patients with voice tremor in Stim OFF was analyzed separately from the group of patients without voice tremor.

Results: Voice tremor was significantly reduced on stimulation compared with off for the subgroup with initial voice tremor. Voice tremor prevalence was found to be 50% (13 patients). Individual differences in voice tremor outcome were noticeable. Six of the patients with voice tremor at baseline improved substantially by cZi DBS treatment.

Conclusions: On the group level, voice tremor in patients with ET was found to reduce when stimulating the cZi. Bilateral stimulation was indicated to be more effective in reducing voice tremor than unilateral stimulation. However, individual voice tremor outcomes suggest that not all patients benefit from cZi DBS. Severity of voice tremor at baseline may not be a good predictor of voice tremor outcome after cZi DBS. Patients should be informed before surgery regarding individual differences in response to DBS treatment.

Keywords: DBS; Essential tremor; Perceptual evaluation; Voice tremor; cZi.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Essential Tremor / complications
  • Essential Tremor / diagnosis
  • Essential Tremor / physiopathology
  • Essential Tremor / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Acoustics*
  • Speech Production Measurement
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vocal Cords / innervation*
  • Voice Disorders / diagnosis
  • Voice Disorders / etiology
  • Voice Disorders / physiopathology
  • Voice Disorders / therapy*
  • Voice Quality*
  • Zona Incerta*