Effects of thalamic deep brain stimulation based on tremor type and diagnosis



It has been suggested that deep brain stimulation (DBS) is less effective in alleviating proximal than distal postural arm tremor and tremor reduction is said to be less in essential tremor (ET) than in Parkinson's disease (PD). We analyzed blinded rater's tremor scores and subjects' disability ratings at 3-month follow-up to examine the effects of DBS based on tremor type (rest, kinetic, distal postural, proximal postural) and diagnosis (ET, PD). An independent examiner provided tremor scores using randomized videotaped footage of 19 ET and 10 PD subjects at baseline and at follow-up with DBS “on.” Subjects provided self-ratings of disability at baseline and at follow-up. Comparisons of baseline and follow-up tremor scores and disability ratings were made using the Mann–Whitney U and Wilcoxon rank sum W test; correlation analyses were performed using Spearman rank order correlation test. There were significant and essentially equal improvements in tremor scores for rest, kinetic, distal postural, and proximal postural tremor at follow-up. Only one subject had no improvement in tremor. Tremor improved significantly and to the same extent in ET and PD subjects in each position except “at rest,” which was most improved in PD (p = 0.0003). ET and PD subjects did not differ in the extent of disability improvement. Improved disability correlated only with improved postural tremor scores: proximal postural and distal postural (r = 0.41, p = 0.03; r = 0.47, p = 0.01). DBS is effective in alleviating tremor and disability in both ET and PD. Resting, kinetic, distal postural, and proximal postural tremor can be reduced to an equal degree. However, DBS produces the greates improvement in disability in association with improved postural tremor in both ET and PD.