Essential Tremor - Deep Brain Stimulation vs. Focused Ultrasound

Expert Rev Neurother. 2023 Jul-Dec;23(7):603-619. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2023.2221789. Epub 2023 Jun 8.


Introduction: Essential Tremor (ET) is one of the most common tremor syndromes typically presented as action tremor, affecting mainly the upper limbs. In at least 30-50% of patients, tremor interferes with quality of life, does not respond to first-line therapies and/or intolerable adverse effects may occur. Therefore, surgery may be considered.

Areas covered: In this review, the authors discuss and compare unilateral ventral intermedius nucleus deep brain stimulation (VIM DBS) and bilateral DBS with Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy, which comprises focused acoustic energy generating ablation under real-time MRI guidance. Discussion includes their impact on tremor reduction and their potential complications. Finally, the authors provide their expert opinion.

Expert opinion: DBS is adjustable, potentially reversible and allows bilateral treatments; however, it is invasive requires hardware implantation, and has higher surgical risks. Instead, MRgFUS is less invasive, less expensive, and requires no hardware maintenance. Beyond these technical differences, the decision should also involve the patient, family, and caregivers.

Keywords: Essential tremor; advanced management; deep brain stimulation; focused ultrasound; tremor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Essential Tremor* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tremor / therapy