Essential tremor: The most common form of cerebellar degeneration?

Elan D. Louis, Phyllis L. Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: The degenerative cerebellar ataxias comprise a large and heterogeneous group of neurological diseases whose hallmark clinical feature is ataxia, and which are accompanied, to variable degrees, by other features that are attributable to cerebellar dysfunction. Essential tremor (ET) is an exceptionally common neurological disease whose primary motor feature is action tremor, although patients often manifest intention tremor, mild gait ataxia and several other features of cerebellar dysfunction. Main Body: In this paper, we review the abundant evidence derived from clinical, neuroimaging and postmortem studies, linking ET to cerebellar dysfunction. Furthermore, we review the combination of clinical, natural history and postmortem features suggesting that ET is neurodegenerative. We then compare the prevalence of ET (400 - 900 cases per 100,000) to that of the other cerebellar degenerations (ranging from <0.5 - 9 cases per 100,000, and in composite likely to be on the order of 20 cases per 100,000) and conclude that ET is 20 to 45 times more prevalent than all other forms of cerebellar degeneration combined. Conclusion: Given the data we present, it is logical to conclude that ET is, by far, the most common form of cerebellar degeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalCerebellum and Ataxias
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 14 2020


  • Essential tremor
  • cerebellar degeneration
  • cerebellum
  • neurodegeneration
  • prevalence
  • spinocerebellar ataxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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