Cognitive Outcomes for Essential Tremor Patients Selected for Thalamic Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery Through Interdisciplinary Evaluations

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 14 (2020)
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Objective: Deep brain stimulation targeted to the ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus is effective for motor symptoms in essential tremor, but there is limited data on cognitive outcomes. We examined cognitive outcomes in a large cohort of ET DBS patients.Methods: In a retrospective analysis, we used repeated-measures ANOVA testing to examine whether the age of tremor onset, age at DBS surgery, hemisphere side implanted with lead, unilateral vs. bilateral implantations, and presence of surgical complications influenced the cognitive outcomes. Neuropsychological outcomes of interest were verbal memory, executive functioning, working memory, language functioning, visuospatial functioning, and general cognitive function.Results: We identified 50 ET DBS patients; 29 males; the mean age of tremor onset was 35.84 years with a median age of 38 years. The mean age at DBS was 68.18 years. There were 37 unilateral 30 left, seven right, and 13 bilateral brain implantations. In the subgroup analysis, there was a significant interaction between assessment and age of tremor onset ; F = 4.47; p = 0.043 for working memory. The post hoc testing found improvements for younger onset ET. Similarly, there was a significant interaction between assessment and complications vs. no complications subgroups; F = 4.34; p = 0.043 for verbal memory with worsening scores seen for ET patients with complications. The remaining tests were not significant.Conclusion: In this large cohort of ET patients with, DBS was not accompanied by a significant decline in many cognitive domains. These outcomes were possibly related to the selection of patients with normal cognitive functioning before surgery, unilateral DBS implantations for the majority, and selection of patients with optimal response to DBS.



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