Lesion of dentatothalamic pathways in severe post-traumatic tremor

Neurol Res. 1995 Dec;17(6):409-16.


The present study investigates evidence of dentatothalamic pathway lesions in nineteen patients with severe kinetic post-traumatic tremor respectively by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Kinetic tremor is thought to be characteristic of lesions of the cerebellar outflow. While this hypothesis is supported by experimental data, neuropathological and neuroradiological findings have been limited. The appendicular tremors were unilateral in 13 patients and bilateral in 6, accounting for 25 instances of tremor. The tremor developed after severe head trauma in 18 patients. These patients had evidence of diffuse axonal injury on MRI. Postural and kinetic tremor was present in all patients, and was accompanied by tremor also present at rest in 14 instances. Multiplanar MRI studies were performed on a high-field MRI system operating at 2.0 T in 13 patients and on intermediate-field strength MRI systems in 6 patients according to a standardized protocol. To detect small deposits of hemosiderin after post-traumatic lesions, the protocol included a heavily T2-weighted spin-echo pulse sequence. Lesions of the dentatothalamic pathways were found in 22 instances. The lesions were classified into different types of according to their distribution. A lesion of the dentate nucleus ipsilateral to the tremor (type 1) was found in one instance (4%), lesions involving the ipsilateral predecussational dentatothalamic pathway (type II and III) were found in 14 instances (56%), and lesions involving the contralateral post-decussational course (type IV) in 7 instances (28%). One patient with a mild head trauma had a lesion of the contralateral thalamus. The lesions appeared as hypointense, hyperintense or mixed. Two of three patients with a parkinsonian-like rest tremor had type IV lesions involving the substantia nigra. The nosological concepts of tremors are discussed. 'Midbrain' tremor may have distinct pathoanatomical lesion sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / complications
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / pathology*
  • Dentate Gyrus / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Thalamus / pathology*
  • Tremor / etiology
  • Tremor / pathology*