Thalamic DBS with a constant-current device in essential tremor: A controlled clinical trial

for the SJM DBS ET Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Introduction This study of thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) investigated whether a novel constant-current device improves tremor and activities of daily living (ADL) in patients with essential tremor (ET). Methods A prospective, controlled, multicenter study was conducted at 12 academic centers. We investigated the safety and efficacy of unilateral and bilateral constant-current DBS of the ventralis intermedius (VIM) nucleus of the thalamus in patients with essential tremor whose tremor was inadequately controlled by medications. The primary outcome measure was a rater-blinded assessment of the change in the target limb tremor score in the stimulation-on versus stimulation-off state six months following surgery. Multiple secondary outcomes were assessed at one-year follow-up, including motor, mood, and quality-of-life measures. Results 127 patients were implanted with VIM DBS. The blinded, primary outcome variable (n = 76) revealed a mean improvement of 1.25 ± 1.26 points in the target limb tremor rating scale (TRS) score in the arm contralateral to DBS (p < 0.001). Secondary outcome variables at one year revealed significant improvements (p ≤ 0.001) in quality of life, depression symptoms, and ADL scores. Forty-seven patients had a second contralateral VIM-DBS, and this group demonstrated reduction in second-sided tremor at 180 days (p < 0.001). Serious adverse events related to the surgery included infection (n = 3), intracranial hemorrhage (n = 3), and device explantation (n = 3). Conclusion Unilateral and bilateral constant-current VIM DBS significantly improves upper extremity tremor, ADL, quality of life, and depression in patients with severe ET.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Essential tremor
  • Thalamus
  • Ventralis intermedius nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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