✓ Isolated head tremor is rare, but can be disabling. The authors' experience with the treatment of limb tremor due to essential tremor led them to consider using bilateral thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) in two patients presenting only with disabling head tremor.
One patient exhibited no peripheral tremor and the other displayed only a slight upper-limb tremor. Both patients underwent placement of units that apply simultaneous bilateral thalamic DBS. Surgical targets were verified by using intraoperative macrostimulation, and the stimulators were implanted during the same surgery. Patients were videotaped preoperatively and at 2, 4, 6, and 9 months postoperatively during periods in which the stimulators were turned on and off. Videotapes were randomized and rated for resting, postural, and action tremors according to the Fahn clinical rating scale for tremor. Because this scale is not designed for head tremor, the patients were also evaluated on the basis of a functional scale that reflected their quality of life and the amount of disability caused by head tremor.
Both patients experienced no tremor after their stimulators were turned on and properly adjusted at the 6th postoperative week. The patients were followed for a total of 9 months and results remained stable throughout this period. No complications were encountered.
Bilateral thalamic DBS appears to be an effective and safe treatment for isolated head tremor in patients with essential tremor. The authors present a scale for the functional assessment of head tremor.