Thalamic and Subthalamic Deep Brain Stimulation for Essential Tremor: Where Is the Optimal Target?

Neurosurgery 70:840–846, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318236a809

The ventrolateral thalamus (ventral intermediate nucleus [Vim]) is the traditional target for neurosurgical treatment of essential tremor. The target, however, has varied substantially among different neurosurgeons.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of deep brain stimulation in the thalamus and posterior subthalamic area (PSA) in relation to electrode location.

METHODS: Thirty-six (17 Vim/19 PSA) patients with 44 deep brain stimulation electrodes were included in this retrospective study. The effect of stimulation was evaluated with standardized settings for each contact using items from the Essential Tremor Rating Scale.

RESULTS: When each contact was evaluated in terms of the treated hand with standardized stimulation, the electrode contact providing the best effect in the individual patient was located in the zona incerta or radiation prelemniscalis in 54% and the Vim in 12%. Forty contacts provided a tremor reduction of . 90%. Of these, 43% were located in the PSA and 18% in the Vim according to the Schaltenbrand atlas. Of these 40 contacts, 37 were found in the PSA group.

CONCLUSION: More contacts yielding an optimal effect were found in the PSA group than in the Vim. Many patients operated on in the Vim got the best effect from a contact located in the PSA. This might suggest that the PSA is a more efficient target than the Vim.