Patient-Reported Outcomes and Predictive Factors following Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy for Essential Tremor

Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2022;100(5-6):291-299. doi: 10.1159/000525763. Epub 2022 Aug 26.


Introduction: The objectives of this study were to determine long-term patient-reported outcomes with magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy for medication-refractory essential tremor (ET) and to identify risk factors for a poor clinical outcome.

Methods: We administered a telephone or mail-in survey to patients who consecutively underwent unilateral MRgFUS thalamotomy for ET at our institution over an 8-year period. Patients were asked to self-report measures of hand tremor improvement, degree of overall postprocedure improvement, activities of daily life, side effects, and willingness to undergo the procedure again. Specific patient characteristics, ultrasound treatment parameters, and postoperative radiological findings from magnetic resonance imaging performed 1 day after the procedure were analyzed, and multivariable linear regression was used to determine if these factors could serve as predictors of clinical outcome.

Results: A total of 85 patients were included in this study with a mean follow-up time of 3.0 years (range 2 months to 1 8.4 years). The mean patient-reported improvement in hand tremor at last follow-up was 66%, and 73% of patients reported meaningful change in their overall condition after the procedure. The percentages of patients reporting normal or only minimal limitations with feeding, drinking, and writing ability at last follow-up were 60%, 71%, and 48%, respectively. In the position of their former selves, 89% of patients would again choose to undergo the procedure. Larger lesions were correlated with a higher risk of adverse events.

Discussion/conclusion: While subjective hand tremor improvement declines with time, willingness to undergo the procedure again following MRgFUS thalamotomy for ET remains very high even several years after the procedure.

Keywords: Brain lesions; Essential tremor; Focused ultrasound; Patient-reported outcomes; Thalamotomy.

MeSH terms

  • Essential Tremor* / diagnostic imaging
  • Essential Tremor* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Psychosurgery*
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tremor / surgery