A single case of MRI-guided focused ultrasound ventro-oral thalamotomy for musician's dystonia

J Neurosurg. 2018 Sep 21;131(2):384-386. doi: 10.3171/2018.5.JNS173125.


Musician's dystonia (MD) is a type of focal hand dystonia that develops only while playing musical instruments and interferes with skilled and fine movements. Lesioning of the ventro-oral (Vo) nucleus of the thalamus (Vo-thalamotomy) using radiofrequency can cause dramatic improvement in MD symptoms. Focused ultrasound (FUS) can make intracranial focal lesions without an incision. The authors used MRI-guided FUS (MRgFUS) to create a lesion on the Vo nucleus to treat a patient with MD. Tubiana's MD scale (TMDS) was used to evaluate the condition of musical play ranging from 1 to 5 (1: worst, 5: best). The patient was a 35-year-old right-handed man with involuntary flexion of the right second, third, and fourth fingers, which occurred while playing a classical guitar. Immediately after therapeutic sonications of FUS Vo-thalamotomy, there was dramatic improvement in the MD symptoms. The TMDS scores before; at 0 and 1 week after; and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after MRgFUS Vo-thalamotomy were 1, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, and 5, respectively. No complications were observed. Focused ultrasound Vo-thalamotomy can be an effective treatment for MD.

Keywords: FUS = focused ultrasound; GKT = Gamma Knife thalamotomy; MD = musician’s dystonia; MRgFUS = MRI-guided FUS; TMDS = Tubiana’s MD scale; Vo = ventro-oral; Vo-thalamotomy = lesioning of the Vo nucleus of the thalamus; dystonia; focused ultrasound; functional neurosurgery; thalamotomy; ventro-oral nucleus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dystonic Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dystonic Disorders / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Radiosurgery / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*
  • Ventral Thalamic Nuclei / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ventral Thalamic Nuclei / surgery*

Supplementary concepts

  • Dystonia, Focal, Task-Specific