Unilateral gamma knife thalamotomy for tremor safety and efficacy in multimodal assessment: a prospective case-control study with two-year follow-up

Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2024 May 14. doi: 10.5603/pjnns.98157. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Unilateral gamma knife thalamotomy (GKT) is a treatment option for pharmacoresistant tremor of various aetiologies. There have been to date no randomised controlled trials performed to assess its safety and efficacy. Our aim was to summarise a two-year multimodal observation of patients with tremor caused by Parkinson's Disease (PD) or essential tremor (ET).

Material and methods: 23 patients with PD (n = 12) or ET (n = 11) were included. They underwent assessments before, V0 (n = 23), and 12 months, V12 (n = 23), and 24 months, V24 (n = 15), after unilateral GKT. Patients were assessed with psychological tests and acoustic voice analysis. Tremor assessment was performed with a digitising table using the Fahn-Tolosa-Marin rating scale (FTMRS). The Unified Parkinson's Disease rating scale part III (UPDRS-III) was also used in the PD group. Gait and balance was assessed using clinical tests, stabilometric platform, and treadmill.

Results: No side effects were observed in a two-year follow-up. There was no notable deterioration observed in the patients' psychological evaluation, speech, or assessment of gait and balance. The scores were significantly lower (p = 0.01) in parts A and B of FTMRS one year after GKT. In post hoc analysis, the scores did not differ significantly between V0 and V24. In FTMRS part C (activities of daily living), no significant change was observed. There was no significant difference in total UPDRS part III score or in score of UPDRS part III domains 3 and 4 ('tremor at rest' and 'action and postural tremor of hands') between measurements.

Conclusions: UGKT may be a safe treatment modality if performed in an experienced centre. Tremor reduction may diminish over time, and UGKT did not lead to cognitive, gait or speech deterioration in a long-term observation.

Keywords: Parkinson’s Disease; essential tremor; gamma knife thalamotomy; tremor.