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Tremor assessment scales before, during and after MRgFUS for essential tremor - results, recommendations and implications.

BACKGROUND: neurosurgical interventions such as MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) are increasingly deployed for treatment of essential tremor.

OBJECTIVE: to make recommendations for monitoring treatment effects during and after MRgFUS based on our investigation of correlations between different scales of tremor severity.

METHODS: twenty-five clinical assessments were collected from thirteen patients before and after unilateral MRgFUS sequential lesioning of the thalamus and posterior subthalamic area for alleviating essential tremor. Scales included Bain Findley Spirography (BFS), Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST), Upper Extremity Total Tremor Score (UETTS) and Quality of Life of Essential Tremor (QUEST), and were documented at baseline, while lying in the scanner with stereotactic frame attached (BFS), and at 24-month follow-up.

RESULTS: the four different scales of tremor severity all correlated significantly. BFS and CRST showed a strong correlation of 0.833 (p  < 0.001). BFS, UETTS and CRST correlated moderately with QUEST (ρ = 0.575-0.721, p < 0.001). BFS and UETTS correlated significantly with all CRST subparts, with the strongest correlation between UETTS and CRST part C (ρ = 0.831, p  < 0.001). Moreover, BFS drawn sitting upright in an outpatient setting correlated with spirals drawn in a supine position on the scanner bed with the stereotactic frame attached.

CONCLUSION: we recommend a combination of BFS & UETTS for intraoperative assessment of awake essential tremor patients and BFS & QUEST for pre-operative and follow-up assessments, as these scale sets are quick and simple to collect and provide meaningful information whilst meeting the practical constraints of intraoperative assessment.

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