Gamma knife radiosurgery in movement disorders: Indications and limitations

Mov Disord. 2017 Jan;32(1):28-35. doi: 10.1002/mds.26625. Epub 2016 Mar 31.


Functional radiosurgery has advanced steadily during the past half century since the development of the gamma knife technique for treating intractable cancer pain. Applications of radiosurgery for intracranial diseases have increased with a focus on understanding radiobiology. Currently, the use of gamma knife radiosurgery to ablate deep brain structures is not widespread because visualization of the functional targets remains difficult despite the increased availability of advanced neuroimaging technology. Moreover, most existing reports have a small sample size or are retrospective. However, increased experience with intraoperative neurophysiological evaluations in radiofrequency thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation supports anatomical and neurophysiological approaches to the ventralis intermedius nucleus. Two recent prospective studies have promoted the clinical application of functional radiosurgery for movement disorders. For example, unilateral gamma knife thalamotomy is a potential alternative to radiofrequency thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation techniques for intractable tremor patients with contraindications for surgery. Despite the promising efficacy of gamma knife thalamotomy, however, these studies did not include sufficient follow-up to confirm long-term effects. Herein, we review the radiobiology literature, various techniques, and the treatment efficacy of gamma knife radiosurgery for patients with movement disorders. Future research should focus on randomized controlled studies and long-term effects. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease; essential tremor; gamma knife radiosurgery; stereotactic radiosurgery; thalamotomy; ventralis intermedius nucleus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / standards
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / therapy*
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Radiosurgery / standards
  • Thalamus / surgery*