The aim of this systematic review is to offer an objective summary of the published literature relating to stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for tremor and consensus guideline recommendations.
This systematic review was performed up to December 2016. Article selection was performed by searching the MEDLINE (PubMed) and EMBASE electronic bibliographic databases. The following key words were used: “radiosurgery” and “tremor” or “Parkinson’s disease” or “multiple sclerosis” or “essential tremor” or “thalamotomy” or “pallidotomy.” The search strategy was not limited by study design but only included key words in the English language, so at least the abstract had to be in English.
A total of 34 full-text articles were included in the analysis. Three studies were prospective studies, 1 was a retrospective comparative study, and the remaining 30 were retrospective studies. The one retrospective comparative study evaluating deep brain stimulation (DBS), radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFT), and SRS reported similar tremor control rates, more permanent complications after DBS and RFT, more recurrence after RFT, and a longer latency period to clinical response with SRS. Similar tremor reduction rates in most of the reports were observed with SRS thalamotomy (mean 88%). Clinical complications were rare and usually not permanent (range 0%–100%, mean 17%, median 2%). Follow-up in general was too short to confirm long-term results.
SRS to the unilateral thalamic ventral intermediate nucleus, with a dose of 130–150 Gy, is a well-tolerated and effective treatment for reducing medically refractory tremor, and one that is recommended by the International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society.