Degeneration of paramedian nuclei in the thalamus induces Holmes tremor in a case of artery of Percheron infarction

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Abstract

Rationale: Holmes’ tremor is an uncommon neurologic disorder following brain insults, and its pathogenesis is undefined. The interruption of the dento-rubro-thalamic tract and secondary deterioration of the nigrostriatal pathway are both required to initiate Holmes’ tremor. We used nuclear medicine imaging tools to analyze a patient with concurrent infarction in different zones of each side of the thalamus. Finding whether the paramedian nuclear groups of the thalamus were injured was a decisive element for developing Holmes’ tremor.

Patient concerns:

A 36-year-old woman was admitted to our department due to a bilateral paramedian thalamic infarction. Seven months after the stroke, a unilaterally involuntary trembling with irregularly wavering motions occurring in both her left hand and forearm.

Diagnosis:

Based on the distinct features of the unilateral coarse tremor and the locations of the lesions on the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the patient was diagnosed with bilateral paramedian thalamic infarction complicated with a unilateral Holmes’ tremor.

Interventions:

The patient refused our recommendation of pharmacological treatment with levodopa and other dopamine agonists based on personal reasons and was only willing to accept physical and occupational training programs at our outpatient clinic.

Outcomes:

We utilized serial anatomic and functional neuroimaging of the brain to survey the neurologic deficit. A brain magnetic resonance imaging showed unequal recovery on each side of the thalamus. The residual lesion appeared larger in the right-side thalamus and had gathered in the paramedian area. A brain perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) revealed that the post-stroke hypometabolic changes were not only in the right-side thalamus but also in the right basal ganglion, which was anatomically intact. Furthermore, the brain Technetium-99m-labeled tropanes as a dopamine transporter imaging agents scan (99m Tc-TRODAT-1) displayed a secondary reduction of dopamine transporters in the right nigrostriatal pathway which had resulted from the damage on the paramedian nuclear groups of the right-side thalamus.

Lessons:

Based on the functional images, we illustrated that a retrograde degeneration originating from the thalamic paramedian nuclear groups, and extending forward along the direct innervating fibers of the mesothalamic pathway, played an essential role towards initiating Holmes’ tremor.

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