Loss of benefit in VIM thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) for essential tremor(ET): How prevalent is it?

Ludy C. Shih*, Kathrin LaFaver, Chen Lim, Efstathios Papavassiliou, Daniel Tarsy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Ventralis intermedius (Vim) thalamic deep brain stimulation for medication-refractory essential tremor (ET) has been shown to significantly improve severity of limb tremor in several large case series with significant reduction in objective motor scores. A variable proportion of patients experience decline in benefit over time, however, most studies have not been designed to describe the phenomenon of waning benefit in terms that are helpful for patient counseling. In this retrospective single center study, we define waning benefit as a phenomenon that occurs after patients begin to require reprogramming visits to optimize DBS benefit on tremor. We employed a survival analysis with time to escape (TTE) as a quantitative measure of time elapsed between implantation and the need for subsequent reprogramming. In our cohort of ET patients operated on with Vim DBS from 1994 to 2009, among 45 subjects who met inclusion criteria, 73% reported waning benefit at some point during a mean follow-up period of 56 months (range 12-152 months). The mean TTE from implantation date was 18 months (range 3-75 months). We conclude that loss of benefit over time from Vim DBS for ET is more prevalent than previously published estimates have indicated and should be discussed during patient counseling regarding durability of expected benefit. In addition, this data suggests that a disease-based explanation rather than technical factors are more likely to explain the decline in benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-679
Number of pages4
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Essential tremor
  • Long-term outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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