Neuropsychological and quality of life outcome after thalamic stimulation for essential tremor

Alexander I. Tröster, J. A. Fields, R. Pahwa, S. B. Wilkinson, K. A. Straits-Tröster, K. Lyons, J. Kieltyka, W. C. Koller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate short-term effects of unilateral thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) on cognition, mood state, and quality of life in patients with essential tremor (ET). Background: Unilateral thalamotomy and thalamic DBS are effective in alleviating refractory tremor contralateral to the side of surgery. Thalamotomy can lead to cognitive morbidity, and DBS might be a preferable surgical intervention given potential avoidance or reversibility of such morbidity. Although unilateral thalamic DBS is cognitively safe and leads to quality of life improvement in PD, its neurobehavioral effects in ET are unknown. Methods: Forty patients with ET were administered a broad neuropsychological test battery, measures of mood state, and generic and disease-specific quality of life measures approximately 1 month before and 3 months after surgery (left hemisphere, 38 patients). Results: Unilateral thalamic DBS was associated with significant improvements in tremor and dominant-hand fine visuomotor coordination. Statistically significant but clinically modest gains were observed on tasks of visuoperceptual and constructional ability, visual attention, delayed word list recognition, and prose recall. Only lexical verbal fluency declined significantly after surgery. Patients rated themselves as less anxious after surgery, and they perceived their quality of life as improved significantly. In particular, patients reported improved quality of life with respect to activities of daily living, stigma, emotional well-being, and communication. Conclusions: Unilateral thalamic DBS for ET is cognitively safe and associated with improvements in anxiety and quality of life in the near term and in the absence of operative complications. Patients were better able to carry out activities of daily living after surgery, and they reported improvement in several psychosocial domains of quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1774-1780
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 10 1999


  • Deep brain stimulation Thalamus
  • Essential tremor
  • Neuropsychology
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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