Purpose Essential vocal tremor (EVT) is a prevalent and difficult-to-manage voice disorder. There is evidence that deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim) of the thalamus may be beneficial for treating EVT. The objective of this preliminary investigation was to conduct intraoperative voice assessments during Vim-DBS implantation in order to evaluate immediate voice outcomes in medication-refractory essential tremor patients with co-occurring EVT. Method Seven adult subjects diagnosed with EVT undergoing Vim-DBS surgery participated in this investigation. Voice samples of sustained vowels were collected by a speech-language pathologist preoperatively and intraoperatively, immediately following Vim-DBS electrode placement. Voice evaluation included objective acoustic assessment of the rate and extent of EVT fundamental frequency and intensity modulation and subjective perceptual ratings of EVT severity. Results The rate of intensity modulation, extent of fundamental frequency modulation, and perceptual rating of EVT severity were significantly reduced intraoperatively as compared to preoperatively. Moderate, positive correlations were appreciated between a subset of acoustic measures and perceptual severity ratings. Conclusions The results of this study demonstrate a speech-language pathologist can conduct intra-operative evaluation of EVT during DBS surgery. Using a noninvasive, simple acoustic recording method, we were able to supplement perceptual subjective observation with objective assessment and demonstrate immediate, intraoperative improvements in EVT. The findings of this analysis inform the added value of intraoperative voice evaluation in Vim-DBS patients and contribute to the growing body of literature seeking to evaluate the efficacy of DBS as a treatment for EVT.
View details for DOI 10.1044/2019_AJSLP-19-00079
View details for PubMedID 32073285