iStock 489349422Surgery and tremor

Surgical intervention in essential tremor has been used for over 50 years, and is used for those patients who have particularly severe/disabling tremor and do not respond to medication.

About 50% of severely affected essential tremor patients have medication-resistant symptoms or are intolerant to medication, so that brain surgery is an option. In order to alleviate tremor in a patient’s right arm, surgery is performed on the left side of the brain and vice versa for the left arm. 

Risks

  • The main risks of this type of surgery, when performed in a neurosurgical centre by a specialist functional neurosurgeon, are a 1/1000 risk of death
  • 3% risk of a bleed within the skull
  • 1% risk of a stroke.

Success of surgery

  • Long-term studies have shown that tremor control can be maintained for up to six years after deep brain stimulation.
  • The effects of deep brain stimulation on the patient’s thought processes, mood state and quality of life after up to 6 years are mainly positive.