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Effect of Ventralis Intermedius Thalamotomy on the Area in the Sensorimotor Cortex Activated by Passive Hand Movements: fMR Imaging Study

Miyagishima T.a · Takahashi A.a · Kikuchi S.b · Watanabe K.a · Hirato M.a · Saito N.c · Yoshimoto Y.a
aDepartment of Neurosurgery, Gunma University School of Medicine, Maebashi, bDepartment of Psychiatry, Jichi Medical University, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, and cDepartment of Neurosurgery, Tokyo University Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 2007;85:225–234 (DOI:10.1159/000103261)


Stereotactic ventralis intermedius (Vim) thalamotomy is effective for essential tremor (ET) of the limb, but the effect on the activity of the sensorimotor cortex is still unclear. The functional changes in this cortical area of patients with ET after Vim thalamotomy were investigated using functional magnetic resonance (fMR) imaging. Six patients underwent Vim thalamotomy for medically intractable ET, predominantly in the right hand. 1.5-tesla fMR imaging was performed using the blood oxygenation level-dependent sequence, before and after Vim thalamotomy, during passive movements with right wrist flexion and extension. Before and after images were analyzed using SPM99 software. Activation in the sensorimotor cortex and supplementary motor area evoked by wrist passive movement was observed both before and after surgery. Group analysis of changes in the blood oxygenation level-dependent response revealed a significantly smaller activated area postoperatively. Activation at the fundus of the central sulcus was characteristically decreased. All patients showed marked improvement in tremor after Vim thalamotomy. No patient experienced neurological deficits. fMR imaging showed that activation at the fundus of the central sulcus evoked by passive wrist movement was suppressed after Vim thalamotomy in ET patients, probably due to disruption of the thalamocortical pathway. The fundus of the central sulcus (Brodmann area 3a) is likely to be one of the key relays in the tremor circuit.


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