Thalamotomy (thalamic ablation) is a surgical procedure that destroys a small portion of the thalamus. The thalamus is a tiny area deep within the brain that sends and receives sensory information.

Thalamotomy may benefit some people who have severe muscle tremors related to Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or certain other medical conditions. Thalamotomy can prevent abnormal brain activity from reaching the muscles and causing tremors.

The procedure starts with numbing an area of the head with local anesthetic. The surgeon then drills a small hole in the skull and inserts a hollow probe into the brain. Once the probe is properly placed, it is treated with liquid nitrogen, an extremely cold substance that destroys the brain tissue by freezing it. The probe is then removed and the wound is closed.

Destroying part of the thalamus usually does not cause any serious neurologic, mental, or emotional problems.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & G. Frederick Wooten, MD - Neurology