What is Thalamotomy and What are The Complications Involved in The Surgery?

Thalamus is group of cells located in the centre of the brain. In thalamotomy, a small part of this is coagulated by surgery. This is generally done to treat tremors. Tremors can be of any origin, a Parkinson’s disease tremor, essential tremor, post stroke tremor etc. Neurosurgeons use detailed scans to locate this part of the brain that needs to be worked on. Generally, the opposite side of the brain is operated on. This means that if the patient experiences tremor in the right hand, the left side of the brain is operated on. This type of surgery is generally done on patients below the age of 65 with normal intellectual functions and normal memory.

axial-map-of-the-thalamus1How exactly is the surgery performed?

Local anesthetic is used to numb the area of the brain that needs to be operated. The patient can be awake during the surgery. A small probe is inserted by drilling a hole in the skull to the targeted area. Liquid nitrogen, an extremely cold substance is circulated inside the probe. This cold probe destroys the targeted brain tissues. After destroying the tissues in the brain, the probe is removed. The wound is then closed.

What are the complications involved in this surgery?

The surgery is usually very safe, if performed only on one side. The most common complications include infection and dysarthria. A carefully performed surgery can be devoid of complication. In our personal experience we had only 1% complication rate.

What are the benefits of this surgery?

Thalamotomy treatment greatly improves the quality of life of the individual suffering from movement disorders. It abolishes tremor. The success rate is more than 90%. Depending on the disease there can be recurrence in small percentage of patients. As the surgery does not involve implants, i.e not Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), it has no complications related to hardware. It also does not require any follow ups or after care.

Going home after surgery

After the surgery, you should be ready to be discharged in a day from the hospital. The stitches are removed after a week. You can usually resume your activities by one week. You will be given pain relief medication. However, if you feel sick or dizzy, you need to contact the hospital immediately. Make sure that you do not perform any strenuous activities immediately after the surgery. Make sure that you observe the symptoms and report to the hospital immediately if you notice anything abnormal.

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