Current clinical application of deep-brain stimulation for essential tremor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

40 Scopus citations


Background: Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment for medically refractory essential tremor (ET). This article reviews the current evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of DBS targets, including the ventral intermediate (VIM) nucleus and posterior subthalamic area (PSA) in treatment of ET. Methods: A structured PubMed search was performed through December 2012 with keywords "deep brain stimulation (DBS)," "essential tremor (ET)," "ventral intermediate (VIM) nucleus," "posterior subthalamic area (PSA)," "safety," and "efficacy." Results: Based on level IV evidence, both VIM and PSA DBS targets appear to be safe and efficacious in ET patients in tremor reduction and improving activities of daily living, though the literature on PSA DBS is limited in terms of bilateral stimulation and long-term follow-up. DBS-related adverse effects are typically mild and stimulation-related. Hardware-related complications after DBS may not be uncommon, and often require additional surgical procedures. Few studies assessed quality-of-life and cognition outcomes in ET patients undergoing DBS stimulation. Conclusion: DBS appears to be a safe and effective treatment for medically refractory ET. More systematic studies comparing VIM and PSA targets are needed to ascertain the most safe and effective DBS treatment for medically refractory ET. More research is warranted to assess quality-of-life and cognition outcomes in ET patients undergoing DBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1859-1865
Number of pages7
JournalNeuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
StatePublished - Dec 2 2013



  • Deep-brain stimulation (DBS)
  • Efficacy
  • Essential tremor (ET)
  • Posterior subthalamic area (PSA)
  • Safety
  • Ventral intermediate (VIM) nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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