Is staged bilateral thalamic radiosurgery an option for otherwise surgically ineligible patients with medically refractory bilateral tremor?


Journal of Neurosurgery, Ahead of Print. OBJECTIVE Unilateral Gamma Knife thalamotomy (GKT) is a well-established treatment for patients with medically refractory tremor who are not eligible for invasive procedures due to increased risk of compications. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether staged bilateral GKT provides benefit with acceptable risk to patients suffering from disabling medically refractory bilateral tremor. METHODS Eleven patients underwent staged bilateral GKT during a 17-year period (1999–2016). Eight patients had essential tremor (ET), 2 had Parkinson’s disease (PD)–related tremor, and 1 had multiple-sclerosis (MS)–related tremor. For the first GKT, a median maximum dose of 140 Gy was delivered to the posterior-inferior region of the nucleus ventralis intermedius (VIM) through a single isocenter with 4-mm collimators. Patients who benefitted from unilateral GKT were eligible for a contralateral GKT 1–2 years later (median 22 months). For the second GKT, a median maximum dose of 130 Gy was delivered to the opposite VIM nucleus to a single 4-mm isocenter. The Fahn-Tolosa-Marin (FTM) clinical tremor rating scale was used to score tremor, drawing, and drinking before and after each GKT. The FTM writing score was assessed only for the dominant hand before and after the first GKT. The Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) was used to assess quality of life and activities of daily living before and after the first and second GKT. RESULTS The median time to last follow-up after the first GKT was 35 months (range 11–70 months). All patients had improvement in at least 1 FTM

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