Treatment of the ventral intermediate nucleus for medically refractory tremor: A cost-analysis of stereotactic radiosurgery versus deep brain stimulation.

Radiother Oncol. 2017;125(1):136–9.
McClelland 3rd S, Jaboin JJ.

Medically refractory tremor treatment has evolved over the past half-century from intraoperative thalamotomy to deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the thalamic ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM). Within the past 15 years, unilateral radiosurgical VIM thalamotomy has emerged as a comparably efficacious treatment modality.

An extensive literature search of VIM DBS series was performed; the total cost of VIM DBS was calculated from hospitals geographically representative of the entire United States using current procedural terminology and work relative value unit (RVU) codes. The 2016 Medicare Ambulatory Payment Classification for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) was added to the work RVU to determine the total cost
of VIM SRS for both Gamma Knife and linear accelerator SRS. Cost estimates assumed that VIM DBS was performed without intraoperative microelectrode recording.

The mean unilateral VIM DBS cost was $17,932.41 per patient. For SRS VIM, the total costs for Gamma Knife ($10,811.77) and linear accelerator ($10,726.40) were 40% less expensive than for unilateral VIM DBS.

Radiosurgery of the VIM is 40% less expensive than unilateral VIM DBS in treatment of medically refractory tremor, regardless of radiosurgical modality. This finding argues for increased radiation oncology involvement in the management of medically refractory tremor patients.