Na Young Jung, Chang Kyu Park, Won Seok Chang, Hyun Ho Jung and Jin Woo Chang
Although neurosurgical procedures are effective treatments for controlling involuntary tremor in patients with essential tremor (ET), they can cause cognitive decline, which can affect quality of life (QOL). The purpose of this study is to assess the changes in the neuropsychological profile and QOL of patients following MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy for ET.
The authors prospectively analyzed 20 patients with ET who underwent unilateral MRgFUS thalamotomy at their institute in the period from March 2012 to September 2014. Patients were regularly evaluated with the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST), neuroimaging, and cognition and QOL measures. The Seoul Neuropsychological Screening Battery was used to assess cognitive function, and the Quality of Life in Essential Tremor Questionnaire (QUEST) was used to evaluate the postoperative change in QOL.
The total CRST score improved by 67.3% (from 44.75 ± 9.57 to 14.65 ± 9.19, p < 0.001) at 1 year following MRgFUS thalamotomy. Mean tremor scores improved by 68% in the hand contralateral to the thalamotomy, but there was no significant improvement in the ipsilateral hand. Although minimal cognitive decline was observed without statistical significance, memory function was much improved (p = 0.031). The total QUEST score also showed the same trend of improving (64.16 ± 17.75 vs 27.38 ± 13.96, p < 0.001).
The authors report that MRgFUS thalamotomy had beneficial effects in terms of not only tremor control but also safety for cognitive function and QOL. Acceptable postoperative changes in cognition and much-improved QOL positively support the clinical significance of MRgFUS thalamotomy as a new, favorable surgical treatment in patients with ET.
Na Young Jung, Chang Kyu Park, Minsoo Kim, Phil Hyu Lee, Young Ho Sohn and Jin Woo Chang
Recently, MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) has emerged as an innovative treatment for numerous neurological disorders, including essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and some psychiatric disorders. Thus, clinical applications with this modality have been tried using various targets. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility, initial effectiveness, and potential side effects of unilateral MRgFUS pallidotomy for the treatment of parkinsonian dyskinesia.
A prospective, nonrandomized, single-arm clinical trial was conducted between December 2013 and May 2016 at a single tertiary medical center. Ten patients with medication-refractory, dyskinesia-dominant PD were enrolled. Participants underwent unilateral MRgFUS pallidotomy using the Exablate 4000 device (InSightec) after providing written informed consent. Patients were serially evaluated for motor improvement, neuropsychological effects, and adverse events according to the 1-year follow-up protocol. Primary measures included the changes in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale (UDysRS) scores from baseline to 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. Secondary measures consisted of neuropsychological batteries and quality of life questionnaire (SF-36). Technical failure and safety issues were also carefully assessed by monitoring all events during the study period.
Unilateral MRgFUS pallidotomy was successfully performed in 8 of 10 patients (80%), and patients were followed up for more than 6 months. Clinical outcomes showed significant improvements of 32.2% in the “medication-off” UPDRS part III score (p = 0.018) and 52.7% in UDysRS (p = 0.017) at the 6-month follow-up, as well as 39.1% (p = 0.046) and 42.7% (p = 0.046) at the 1-year follow-up, respectively. These results were accompanied by improvement in quality of life. Among 8 cases, 1 patient suffered an unusual side effect of sonication; however, no patient experienced persistent aftereffects.
In the present study, which marks the first Phase I pilot study of unilateral MRgFUS pallidotomy for parkinsonian dyskinesia, the authors demonstrated the efficacy of pallidal lesioning using MRgFUS and certain limitations that are unavoidably associated with incomplete thermal lesioning due to technical issues. Further investigation and long-term follow-up are necessary to validate the use of MRgFUS in clinical practice.
Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02003248 (clinicaltrials.gov)