Long-term deep brain stimulation for essential tremor: 12-year clinicopathologic follow-up


  • Potential conflict of interest: Dr. Jankovic has received research grants from Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. Dr. DiLorenzo is the founder of and stockholder of two neural implant / neurostimulator companies: NeuroVista (originally NeuroBionics, then BioNeuronics) and Barinetics. Dr. Simpson is a consultant and speaker for Medtronic. Drs. Powell and Taki have nothing to disclose.


We describe the clinical course and postmortem pathological findings in a patient with essential tremor (ET) treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) for 12 years. This 75 year old woman had a 13-year history of progressive ET prior to implantation of bilateral quadripolar DBS electrodes in the region of her ventral intermediate thalamic nuclei in 1996, producing immediate relief of arm tremor. Histopathological examination of the brain, performed 12 years after the initial implantation, demonstrated electrode catheter tracts rimmed by 20-25 micron fibrous sheaths, with multinucleated giant cells and reactive gliosis. Lymphocytic infiltration was seen by L26 immunoreactivity with CD3 (T cells) staining predominating over CD20 (B cells). Cerebellar axonal spheroids and Purkinje cell loss were found. The minimal foreign body reaction and gliosis around the electrodes 12 years after implantation supports the long-term safety of DBS. The case represents the longest reported follow-up with autopsy examination after DBS and confirmed histological changes associated with ET. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society