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Oleg Kopyov, Deane Jacques, Christopher Duma, Galen Buckwalter, Alex Kopyov, Abraham Lieberman, and Brian Copcutt

✓ The outcome of radiofrequency-guided posteroventral medial pallidotomy was investigated in 29 patients with recalcitrant Parkinson's disease. Extracellular recordings were obtained in the target region to differentiate the internal from the external globus pallidus, and distinct waveforms were recorded in each region. Stimulation of the target site further verified the lesion location. Of the 29 patients treated during the course of 1 year, none showed any adverse side effects (such as hemianopsia or hemiparesis) from the procedure. Significant and immediate improvement in motor involvement (dyskinesia, rigidity, dystonia, freezing, and tremor) was observed as measured by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale and the Hoehn and Yahr scale. Patients experienced improvements in their condition as measured on a self-rating scale, and their ability to perform the activities of daily living was also significantly improved. Although the onset and duration of the effect of a single dose of levodopa did not change, the number of hours in an “off” state of dyskinesia per day was significantly decreased. These results provide further evidence, in a large group of patients, that posteroventral medial pallidotomy results in significant control of the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease with a minimum of undesirable side effects.

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Christopher M. Duma, Deane B. Jacques, Oleg Kopyov, Rufus J. Mark, Brian Copcutt, and Halle K. Farokhi

Certain patients, for example elderly, high-risk surgical patients, may be unfit for radiofrequency thalamotomy to treat Parkinsonian tremor. Some patients, when given the opportunity, may choose to avoid an invasive surgical procedure. The authors retrospectively reviewed their experience using gamma knife radiosurgery for thalamotomies in this patient subpopulation.

Radiosurgical nucleus ventralis intermedius thalamotomy using the gamma knife unit was performed to make 38 lesions in 24 men and 10 women (median age 73 years, range 58-87 years) over a 5-year period. A median radiation dose of 130 Gy (range 100-165 Gy) was delivered to 38 nuclei (four patients underwent bilateral thalamotomy) using a single 4-mm collimator following classic anatomical landmarks. Twenty-nine lesions were made in the left nucleus ventralis intermedius thalamus for right-sided tremor. Patients were followed for a median of 28 months (range 6-58 months). Independent neurological evaluation of tremor based on the change in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale tremor score was correlated with subjective patient evaluation. Comparison was made between a subgroup of patients in whom “low-dose” lesions were made (range 110-135 Gy, mean 120 Gy) and those in whom “high-dose” lesions were made (range 140-165 Gy, mean 160 Gy) for purposes of dose-response information.

Four thalamotomies (10.5%) failed, four (10.5%) produced mild improvement, 11 (29%) produced good improvement, and 10 (26%) produced excellent relief of tremor. In nine thalamotomies (24%) the tremor was eliminated completely. The median time to onset of improvement was 2 months (range 1 week-8 months) Concordance between an independent neurologist's evaluation and that of the patient was statistically significant (p < 0.001). Two patients who underwent unilateral thalamotomy experienced bilateral improvement of their tremor. There were no neurological complications. There was better tremor reduction in the high-dose group when compared with the low-dose group (p < 0.04).

Although less effective than other stereotactic techniques, gamma knife radiosurgical thalamotomy offers tremor control with minimal risk to a patient population unsuited for open surgery.

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Christopher M. Duma, Deane B. Jacques, Oleg V. Kopyov, Rufus J. Mark, Brian Copcutt, and Halle K. Farokhi

Object. Certain patients, for example, elderly high-risk surgical patients, may be unfit for radiofrequency thalamotomy to treat parkinsonian tremor. Some patients, when given the opportunity, may choose to avoid an invasive surgical procedure. The authors retrospectively reviewed their experience using gamma knife radiosurgery for thalamotomies in this patient subpopulation: 1) to determine the efficacy of the procedure; 2) to see if there is a dose—response relationship; 3) to review radiological findings of radiosurgical lesioning; and 4) to assess the risks of complications.

Methods. Radiosurgical nucleus ventralis intermedius thalamotomy using the gamma knife unit was performed to make 38 lesions in 24 men and 10 women (median age 73 years, range 58–87 years) over a 5-year period. A median radiation dose of 130 Gy (range 100–165 Gy) was delivered to 38 nuclei (four patients underwent bilateral thalamotomy) using a single 4-mm collimator following classic anatomical landmarks. Twenty-nine lesions were made in the left nucleus ventralis intermedius thalamus for right-sided tremor. Patients were followed for a median of 28 months (range 6–58 months). Independent neurological evaluation of tremor based on the change in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale tremor score was correlated with subjective patient evaluation. Comparison was made between a subgroup of patients in whom “low-dose” lesions were made (range 110–135 Gy, mean 120 Gy) and those in whom “high-dose” lesions were made (range 140–165 Gy, mean 160 Gy) for purposes of dose—response information.

Four thalamotomies (10.5%) failed, four (10.5%) produced mild improvement, 11 (29%) produced good improvement, and 10 (26%) produced excellent relief of tremor. In nine thalamotomies (24%) the tremor was eliminated completely. The median time to onset of improvement was 2 months (range 1 week–8 months). Concordance between an independent neurologist's evaluation and that of the patient was statistically significant (p < 0.001). Two patients who underwent unilateral thalamotomy experienced bilateral improvement in their tremor. There were no neurological complications. There was better tremor reduction in the high-dose group than in the low-dose group (p < 0.04).

Conclusions. Although less effective than other stereotactic techniques, gamma knife radiosurgery for thalamotomy offers tremor control with minimal risk to patients unsuited for open surgery.

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Ronald F. Young, Skip Jacques, Rufus Mark, Oleg Kopyov, Brian Copcutt, Allen Posewitz, and Francisco Li

Object. The purpose of this study was to investigate the long-term effects of gamma knife thalamotomy for treatment of disabling tremor.

Methods. One hundred fifty-eight patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging—guided radiosurgical nucleus ventralis intermedius (VIM) thalamotomy for the treatment of parkinsonian tremor (102 patients), essential tremor (52 patients), or tremor due to stroke, encephalitis, or cerebral trauma (four patients). Preoperative and postoperative blinded assessments were performed by a team of independent examiners skilled in the evolution of movement disorders. A single isocenter exposure with the 4-mm collimator helmet of the Leksell gamma knife unit was used to make the lesions.

In patients with Parkinson's disease 88.3% became fully or nearly tremor free, with a mean follow up of 52.5 months. Statistically significant improvements were seen in Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale tremor scores and rigidity scores, and these improvements were maintained in 74 patients followed 4 years or longer.

In patients with essential tremor, 92.1% were fully or nearly tremor free postoperatively, but only 88.2% remained tremor free by 4 years or more post-GKS. Statistically significant improvements were seen in the Clinical Rating Scale for tremor in essential tremor patients and these improvements were well maintained in the 17 patients, followed 4 years or longer. Only 50% of patients with tremor of other origins improved significantly.

One patient sustained a transient complication and two patients sustained mild permanent side effects from the treatments.

Conclusions. Gamma knife VIM thalamotomy provides relief from tremor equivalent to that provided by radiofrequency thalamotomy or deep brain stimulation, but it is safer than either of these alternatives. Long-term follow up indicates that relief of tremor is well maintained. No long-term radiation-induced complications have been observed.