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Thalamotomy, DBS Can Cause Speech Problems

Mov Disord; ePub 2017 Jan 25; Alomar, King, et al

Both lesioning and stimulation thalamic surgeries for the treatment of various movement disorders produce adverse effects on speech, according to a recent study. A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed using 9 medical studies databases. Researchers retrieved studies between 1960 and September 2014. They found:

  • Of a total of 2,320 patients, 19.8% had speech difficulty after thalamotomy.
  • Speech difficulty occurred in 15% of those treated unilaterally and 40.6% of those treated bilaterally.
  • Speech impairment was noticed 2- to 3-fold more commonly after left-sided procedures (40.7% vs 15.2%).
  • Of the 572 patients that underwent DBS, 19.4% experienced speech difficulty.
  • Subgroup analysis revealed that this complication occurs in 10.2% of patients treated unilaterally and 34.6% treated bilaterally.
  • After thalamotomy, the risk was higher in Parkinson patients compared to patients with essential tremor: 19.8% vs 4.5% in the unilateral group and 42.5% vs 13.9% in the bilateral group.
  • After DBS, this rate was higher in essential tremor patients.


Alomar S, King NK, Tam J, Bari AA, Hamani C, Lozeno AM. Speech and language adverse effects after thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation in patients with movement disorders: A meta-analysis. [Published online ahead of print January 25, 2017]. Mov Disord. doi:10.1002/mds.26924.