Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy restored distinctive resting-state networks in patients with essential tremor

Sachiko Kato, Satoshi Maesawa, Epifanio Bagarinao, Daisuke Nakatsubo, Takahiko Tsugawa, Satomi Mizuno, Kazuya Kawabata, Takashi Tsuboi, Masashi Suzuki, Masashi Shibata, Sou Takai, Tomotaka Ishizaki, Jun Torii, Manabu Mutoh, Ryuta Saito, Toshihiko Wakabayashi, Masahisa Katsuno, Norio Ozaki, Hirohisa Watanabe, Gen Sobue



Magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy ameliorates symptoms in patients with essential tremor (ET). How this treatment affects canonical brain networks has not been elucidated. The purpose of this study was to clarify changes of brain networks after MRgFUS thalamotomy in ET patients by analyzing resting-state networks (RSNs).


Fifteen patients with ET were included in this study. Left MRgFUS thalamotomy was performed in all cases, and MR images, including resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI), were taken before and after surgery. MR images of 15 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HCs) were also used for analysis. Using rsfMRI data, canonical RSNs were extracted by performing dual regression analysis, and the functional connectivity (FC) within respective networks was compared among pre-MRgFUS patients, post-MRgFUS patients, and HCs. The severity of tremor was evaluated using the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST) score pre- and postoperatively, and its correlation with RSNs was examined.


Preoperatively, ET patients showed a significant decrease in FC in the sensorimotor network (SMN), primary visual network (VN), and visuospatial network (VSN) compared with HCs. The decrease in FC in the SMN correlated with the severity of tremor. After MRgFUS thalamotomy, ET patients still exhibited a significant decrease in FC in a small area of the SMN, but they exhibited an increase in the cerebellar network (CN). In comparison between pre- and post-MRgFUS patients, the FC in the SMN and the VSN significantly increased after treatment. Quantitative evaluation of the FCs in these three groups showed that the SMN and VSN increased postoperatively and demonstrated a trend toward those of HCs.


The SMN and CN, which are considered to be associated with the cerebello-thalamo-cortical loop, exhibited increased connectivity after MRgFUS thalamotomy. In addition, the FC of the visual network, which declined in ET patients compared with HCs, tended to normalize postoperatively. This could be related to the hypothesis that visual feedback is involved in tremor severity in ET patients. Overall, the analysis of the RSNs by rsfMRI reflected the pathophysiology with the intervention of MRgFUS thalamotomy in ET patients and demonstrated a possibility of a biomarker for successful treatment.

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