Growing evidence implicates an overactivity of the cerebellum in the pathophysiology of essential tremor. In a small series of patients, we explored the acute effects and therapeutic possibilities of low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the cerebellum in patients with essential tremor in a double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled design.
Ten patients with essential tremor underwent an active and a sham rTMS session, at a 1-week interval. The rTMS was performed with a focal double 70-mm butterfly coil (maximum peak field of 2.2 T) applied 2 cm below the inion. Each session consisted of 30 trains of 10-second duration separated by 30-second pauses, at 100% of the maximum output intensity and at 1-Hz frequency. Major evaluation outcomes were the score on the Tremor Clinical Rating Scale and accelerometric recordings obtained before (-5 minutes), immediately after (+5 minutes), and 1 hour after (+60 minutes) each rTMS session. Both clinical and accelerometric measurements were obtained by a blinded neurologist.
On the +5-minute assessment, active rTMS produced a notable tremor improvement compared with sham rTMS, as evidenced by a significant reduction in scores on the clinical rating scale and accelerometric values. At +60 minutes, no clinical or accelerometric benefit was evidenced. No adverse effects of rTMS were observed.
This exploratory study of the potential therapeutic properties of rTMS on essential tremor showed an acute antitremor effect. Further investigation in search of a more lasting benefit is warranted.
Arch Neurol 2002 Mar;59(3):413-7
Gironell A, Kulisevsky J, Lorenzo J, Barbanoj M, Pascual-Sedano B, Otermin P.
Servei de Neurologia, Hospital de Sant Pau, Av Sant Antoni Ma Claret 167, 08025