Mercury toxicity due to the smelting of placer gold recovered by mercury amalgam.
A 19-year-old man developed tremor in both hands and fatigue after starting work at a placer gold mine where he was exposed to mercury-gold amalgam. Examination revealed an intention tremor, dysdiadochokinesis and mild rigidity. The 24-h urinary mercury concentration reached a peak of 715 nmol/l (143 ug/l) shortly before the clinical examination, after which he was removed from working in the gold room [Mercury No. Adverse Effect Level: 250 nmol/l (50 ug/l)]. On review 7 weeks later his tremor had almost resolved and the dysdiadochokinesis and rigidity had gone. The 24-h urinary mercury concentration had fallen to 160 nmol/l (32 ug/l). The principal exposure to mercury was considered to be the smelting of retorted gold with previously unrecognized residual mercury in it. The peak air concentration of mercury vapour during gold smelting was 0.533 mg/m3 (Mercury Vapour ACGIH TLV: 0.05 mg/m3 TWA). Several engineering and procedural controls were instituted. This episode occurred at another mine site, unrelated to Mount Isa Mines Limited. (+info
Evidence for a non-orthostatic origin of orthostatic tremor.
OBJECTIVES: Orthostatic tremor was first described by Heilman in 1984. It usually occurs in the legs during stance and decreases markedly during sitting or walking. The aim of this study was to determine if orthostatic tremor is invariably associated with the orthostatic and weight bearing conditions in the arms and legs, and to investigate the features of orthostatic tremor under different levels of peripheral loading. METHODS: Multichannel surface EMG recordings were obtained under different conditions (body posture and peripheral loading) from the proximal arm and leg muscles of seven patients fulfilling the clinical and electrophysiological criteria of orthostatic tremor. RESULTS: In weight bearing positions (stance; weight bearing on the hands on all fours), all patients showed 13 Hz-16 Hz tremor activity, predominantly in the active limb. No tremor activity could be found in a supine position with muscles at rest. Isometric contraction of the limbs in the supine position led to synchronous 13 Hz-16 Hz rhythmic activity in five patients. No tremor was seen when the subjects were suspended in a harness with relaxed legs. Isometric contraction of the legs in this position produced tremor in two patients. A stepwise reduction of the body weight by a harness reduced the tremor activity. Additional loading (10 kg-20 kg) during stance led to an increase in tremor amplitude, but tremor frequency remained unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: Orthostatic tremor is invariably present during stance or other weight bearing positions. It is not, however, always associated with orthostasis. In at least some patients it can be classified as an orthostasis independent action tremor. The failure of peripheral loading to modify tremor frequency indicates that orthostatic tremor may have a central, rather than a peripheral, origin. (+info
Relationship of lesion location to clinical outcome following microelectrode-guided pallidotomy for Parkinson's disease.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between lesion location and clinical outcome following globus pallidus internus (GPi) pallidotomy for advanced Parkinson's disease. Thirty-three patients were prospectively studied with extensive neurological examinations before and at 6 and 12 months following microelectrode-guided pallidotomy. Lesion location was characterized using volumetric MRI. The position of lesions within the posteroventral region of the GPi was measured, from anteromedial to posterolateral along an axis parallel to the internal capsule. To relate lesion position to clinical outcome, hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used. The variance in outcome measures that was related to preoperative scores and lesion volume was first calculated, and then the remaining variance attributable to lesion location was determined. Lesion location along the anteromedial-to-posterolateral axis within the GPi influenced the variance in total score on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale in the postoperative 'off' period, and in 'on' period dyskinesia scores. Within the posteroventral GPi, anteromedial lesions were associated with greater improvement in 'off' period contralateral rigidity and 'on' period dyskinesia, whereas more centrally located lesions correlated with better postoperative scores of contralateral akinesia and postural instability/gait disturbance. Improvement in contralateral tremor was weakly related to lesion location, being greater with posterolateral lesions. We conclude that improvement in specific motor signs in Parkinson's disease following pallidotomy is related to lesion position within the posteroventral GPi. These findings are consistent with the known segregated but parallel organization of specific motor circuits in the basal ganglia, and may explain the variability in clinical outcome after pallidotomy and therefore have important therapeutic implications. (+info
Reassessment of unilateral pallidotomy in Parkinson's disease. A 2-year follow-up study.
Unilateral pallidotomy has gained popularity in treating the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. We present the results of a 2-year post-pallidotomy follow-up study. Using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), the Goetz dyskinesia scale and the Purdue Pegboard Test (PPBT), we evaluated 20 patients at regular intervals both off and on medications for 2 years post-pallidotomy. There were no significant changes in the dosages of antiparkinsonian medications from 3 months pre-pallidotomy to 2 years post-pallidotomy. On the side contralateral to the operation, the improvements were preserved in 'on'-state dyskinesia (83% reduction from pre-pallidotomy to 2 years post-pallidotomy, P < 0.001) and 'off'-state tremor (90% reduction from pre-pallidotomy to 2 years post-pallidotomy, P = 0.005). There were no statistically significant differences between pre-pallidotomy scores and those at 2 years post-pallidotomy in ipsilateral dyskinesia, axial dyskinesia, 'off'- or 'on'-state PPBT, 'off'-state Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and 'off'-state gait and postural stability. After 2 years, the 'on'-state ADL scores worsened by 75%, compared with pre-pallidotomy (P = 0.005). We conclude that 2 years after pallidotomy, the improvements in dyskinesia and tremor on the side contralateral to pallidotomy are preserved, while the initial improvements in most other deficits disappear, either because of progression of pathology or loss of the early efficacy achieved by surgery. (+info
Anticonvulsant-induced dyskinesias: a comparison with dyskinesias induced by neuroleptics.
Anticonvulsants cause dyskinesias more commonly than has been appreciated. Diphenylhydantoin (DPH), carbamazepine, primidone, and phenobarbitone may cause asterixis. DPH, but not other anticonvulsants, may cause orofacial dyskinesias, limb chorea, and dystonia in intoxicated patients. These dyskinesias are similar to those caused by neuroleptic drugs and may be related to dopamine antagonistic properties possessed by DPH. (+info
Classification of tremor and update on treatment.
Tremor is a symptom of many disorders, including Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, orthostatic tremor, cerebellar disease, peripheral neuropathy and alcohol withdrawal. Tremors may be classified as postural, rest or action tremors. Symptomatic treatment is tailored to the tremor type. Combination therapy with carbidopa and levodopa remains the first-line approach for parkinsonian tremor. Essential tremor may be amenable to propranolol or primidone. Propranolol may be useful in treating alcohol withdrawal tremor, and isoniazid may control the cerebellar tremor associated with multiple sclerosis. Clonazepam may relieve orthostatic tremor. Other agents are also available for the treatment of tremor. When medical therapy fails to control the tremor, surgical options such as thalamotomy, pallidotomy and thalamic stimulation should be considered in severe cases. Thalamic stimulation, the most recent of these surgical approaches, offers the advantage over ablative procedures of alleviating tremor without the creation of a permanent lesion. (+info
Ocular microtremor in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Abnormalities in the oculomotor control mechanism of patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease are well recognised. In this study the effect of Parkinson's disease on tonic output from oculomotor nuclei was studied by using oculomicrotremor as an index of such output. Oculomicrotremor readings were taken from 22 parkinsonian patients and 22 normal healthy volunteers using the piezoelectric strain gauge technique. There was a slower overall tremor frequency, baseline, and burst frequency in the parkinsonian group. There was also a significant increase in the duration of baseline, with a decrease in the number of bursts a second and a decrease in average duration of bursts in the patient group compared with the normal group. One patient, whose medication was withdrawn, showed a marked decrease in mean frequency and baseline frequency with a decrease in number of bursts and increase in baseline duration compared with readings taken when treatment recommenced. These results suggest that variables measured in oculomicrotremor are altered compared with normal subjects, reflecting altered tonic output from oculomotor nuclei in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. (+info
Levodopa may improve orthostatic tremor: case report and trial of treatment.
Primary orthostatic tremor is a regular fast lower limb tremor causing unsteadiness on standing. Treatment is generally unsatisfactory. A patient with primary orthostatic tremor who 9 years later developed levodopa responsive idiopathic Parkinson's disease is described. The patient exhibited the classic features of primary orthostatic tremor with relief of the tremor by walking or sitting while treated with levodopa. However, in the "off" state, when the benefits of levodopa disappeared, this orthostatic tremor was continuous and severely compromised the patient's gait. On the basis of this finding eight patients with primary orthostatic tremor were treated with levodopa. Five patients experienced benefit and elected to remain on long term treatment. This study is the first trial of therapy in primary orthostatic tremor and suggests that levodopa can lead to good symptomatic relief in this potentially disabling condition. (+info