Magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy was recently approved for use in the treatment of medication-refractory essential tremor (ET). Previous work has described lesion appearance and volume on MRI up to 6 months after treatment. Here, the authors report on the volumetric segmentation of the thalamotomy lesion and associated edema in the immediate postoperative period and 1 year following treatment, and relate these radiographic characteristics with clinical outcome.
Seven patients with medication-refractory ET underwent MRgFUS thalamotomy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and were monitored clinically for 1 year posttreatment. Treatment effect was measured using the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST). MRI was performed immediately postoperatively, 24 hours posttreatment, and at 1 year. Lesion location and the volumes of the necrotic core (zone I) and surrounding edema (cytotoxic, zone II; vasogenic, zone III) were measured on thin-slice T2-weighted images using Slicer 3D software.
Patients had significant improvement in overall CRST scores (baseline 51.4 ± 10.8 to 24.9 ± 11.0 at 1 year, p = 0.001). The most common adverse events (AEs) in the 1-month posttreatment period were transient gait disturbance (6 patients) and paresthesia (3 patients). The center of zone I immediately posttreatment was 5.61 ± 0.9 mm anterior to the posterior commissure, 14.6 ± 0.8 mm lateral to midline, and 11.0 ± 0.5 mm lateral to the border of the third ventricle on the anterior commissure–posterior commissure plane. Zone I, II, and III volumes immediately posttreatment were 0.01 ± 0.01, 0.05 ± 0.02, and 0.33 ± 0.21 cm3, respectively. These volumes increased significantly over the first 24 hours following surgery. The edema did not spread evenly, with more notable expansion in the superoinferior and lateral directions. The spread of edema inferiorly was associated with the incidence of gait disturbance. At 1 year, the remaining lesion location and size were comparable to those of zone I immediately posttreatment. Zone volumes were not associated with clinical efficacy in a statistically significant way.
MRgFUS thalamotomy demonstrates sustained clinical efficacy at 1 year for the treatment of medication-refractory ET. This technology can create accurate, predictable, and small-volume lesions that are stable over time. Instances of AEs are transient and are associated with the pattern of perilesional edema expansion. Additional analysis of a larger MRgFUS thalamotomy cohort could provide more information to maximize clinical effect and reduce the rate of long-lasting AEs.