A meta-analysis of outcomes and complications of magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound in the treatment of essential tremor

Neurosurg Focus. 2018 Feb;44(2):E4. doi: 10.3171/2017.11.FOCUS17628.


OBJECTIVE Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is a novel technique that uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to achieve target ablation. Like a lens focusing the sun's rays, the ultrasound waves are focused to generate heat. This therapy combines the noninvasiveness of Gamma Knife thalamotomy and the real-time ablation of deep brain stimulation with acceptable complication rates. The aim of this study was to analyze the overall outcomes and complications of MRgFUS in the treatment of essential tremor (ET). METHODS A meta-analysis in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines was made by searching PubMed, Cochrane library database, Web of Science, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). Patients with the diagnosis of ET who were treated with MRgFUS were included in the study. The change in the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST) score after treatment was analyzed. The improvement in disability was assessed with the Quality of Life in Essential Tremor Questionnaire (QUEST) score. The pooled data were analyzed by the DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model. Tests for bias and heterogeneity were performed. RESULTS Nine studies with 160 patients who had ET were included in the meta-analysis. The ventral intermediate nucleus was the target in 8 of the studies. The cerebellothalamic tract was targeted in 1 study. There was 1 randomized controlled trial, 6 studies were retrospective, and 2 were prospective. The mean number of sonications given in various studies ranged from 11 ± 3.2 to 22.5 ± 7.5 (mean ± SD). The maximum delivered energy ranged from 10,320 ± 4537 to 14,497 ± 6695 Joules. The mean of peak temperature reached ranged from 53°C ± 2.3°C to 62.0°C ± 2.5°C. On meta-analysis with the random-effects model, the pooled percentage improvements in the CRST Total, CRST Part A, CRST Part C, and QUEST scores were 62.2%, 62.4%, 69.1%, and 46.5%, respectively. Dizziness was the most common in-procedure complication, occurring in 45.5%, followed by nausea and vomiting in 26.85% (pooled percentage). At 3 months, ataxia was the most common complication, occurring in 32.8%, followed by paresthesias in 25.1% of the patients. At 12 months posttreatment, the ataxia had significantly recovered and paresthesias became the most common persisting complication, at 15.3%. CONCLUSIONS The MRgFUS therapy for ET significantly improves the CRST scores and improves the quality of life in patients with ET, with an acceptable complication rate. Therapy with MRgFUS is a promising frontier in functional neurosurgery.

Keywords: CRST = Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor; CTT = cerebellothalamic tract; DBS = deep brain stimulation; ET = essential tremor; GKT = Gamma Knife thalamotomy; MR-guided focused ultrasound; MRgFUS = MR-guided focused ultrasound; PRISMA = Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses; QUEST = Quality of Life in Essential Tremor Questionnaire; RCT = randomized controlled trial; Vim = ventral intermediate nucleus; essential tremor; thalamotomy; ventral intermediate nucleus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Essential Tremor / diagnostic imaging*
  • Essential Tremor / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*