Comparison of VIM and STN DBS for Parkinsonian Resting and Postural/Action Tremor

  • Raminder Parihar
  • Ron Alterman
  • Efstathios Papavassiliou
  • Daniel Tarsy
  • Ludy C. Shih

Abstract

Background: Resting tremor is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but up to 47% of PD patients have action tremor, which is sometimes resistant to medications. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus or subthalamic nucleus (STN) is effective for medication-refractory tremor in PD, though it remains unclear whether STN DBS is as effective as VIM DBS for postural/action tremor related to PD.

Methods: We carried out a single-center retrospective review of patients with medication-refractory resting, postural, and action PD tremor, treated with either VIM or STN DBS between August 2004 and March 2014. We assessed the degree of improvement using items 20 and 21 of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor scale and examined the proportion of patients achieving tremor arrest.

Results: A total of 18 patients were analyzed, 10 treated with STN and eight treated with VIM, with similar off-medication motor UPDRS scores. There was no significant difference in improvement in tremor scores or in the proportion of patients experiencing tremor arrest between the two stimulation sites. Overall, 56% and 72% of patients experienced complete absence of postural/action tremor and resting tremor, respectively, at last follow-up.

Discussion: This study demonstrated excellent outcomes on both resting and postural/action tremor after either VIM or STN DBS. Resting tremor improved to a greater degree than postural/action tremor in both groups. These results suggest that a large randomized controlled trial is needed to show a superior effect of one target on PD tremor.