Virginia Thornley, M.D.
November 6, 2019
Essential tremor is now treated with implantation of a deep brain stimulating device. It has been approved for treatment for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonic tremor and obsessive compulsive disorder (1).
Basically, within the brain, there is a recurrent loop that is not inhibited by the correct feedback inhibition resulting in repetitive actions. In obsessive-compulsive disorders, there are repetitive thoughts and actions since this loop is not controlled.
In one study, the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) was stimulated in 98 patients with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonic tremor with sustained improvement. There was significant long-term improvement even after 10 years(2).
The mechanism is unclear. However, certain nuclei stimulated were found to result in side effects. Thalamic stimulation resulted in fatigue. Subthalamic nuclear implantation was found to give rise to depression and suicidality(3).
- Naestromm, M., Blomstedt, P., Hariz, M., Bodjund, O., Deep brain stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder: knowledge and concerns among psychiatrists, psychotherapists and patients, Surg. Neurol Int. 2017; 8:298
- Cury, R.G., Fraix, V., Castrioto, A.,Perez-Fernandez, M.A., Krack, P., Chabardes, S., Seigneuret, E., Alho, E.J., Benabid, A.L., Moro, E. Thalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson disease, essential tremor and dystonia. Neurology. 2017 Sep 26;89(13):1416-1423
- Zarzycki, M.Z., Domitrz, I., Stimulation-induced side effects after deep brain stimulation-a systematic review. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2019, Aug 27:1-24