All About the Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery!

What is Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery?

Deep brain stimulation is a scientific process to inactivate those parts of the brain that are responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, and other associated movement disorder symptoms, without damaging the brain. When the quality of life is no longer improving on optimal medical therapy, its time to consider Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. The major risks in DBS Surgery include a 1% risk of stroke causing a permanent deficit, due to bleeding in the brain, and a 2-5% chance of infection. DBS is a therapy which is relatively complex hence demands regular neurological follow-up and battery changes every 3 to 4 years.

Cook Children's Medical Center-Deep Brain Stimulation

How is Deep Brain Stimulation(DBS) Surgery performed?

Deep Brain Stimulation surgery is performed by placing a very thin metal electrode into possible brain targets and attaching it to a computerized pulse generator, which is implanted underneath the skin in the chest . The stimulator system is completely internal and no wires are visible. To adjust the settings for optimal symptom control, a programming computer  is used, which is held right next to the skin above the pulse generator .Settings are adjusted during routine checkups. DBS does not destroy brain tissue, like in older lesioning procedures .  Instead, it alters the abnormal function of the brain tissue in the region where the  stimulating electrode is placed.  Please note that DBS therapy requires considerable time and patience before showing optimal results.

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There are different ways of placing the electrodes into the target areas of the brain. First of all, these areas need to be be located. To locate the target areas, therapists rely either on Computed Tomography(CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) scan. Many surgeons use an electrode recording technique to map and target  areas that they need to reach.

Once the appropriate location is identified, the electrodes are implanted. For the placement of the impulse generator in the chest, the patient is subjected to general anesthesia. The stimulator is usually turned on after 4-6 weeks of the surgery. It may take several months for patients to receive adequate symptom relief. But, overall, DBS has very few side effects.

Who should get Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)?

This is a common question among many. Anyone can undergo the therapy with minimal risk.  An individual need not suffer for years after diagnosis or try out every known combination of medicine, before considering DBS.DBS is a therapy that is known to improve quality of life for patients with movement disorder. So when anyone’s quality of life is affected by movement disorder neurological diseases or by medication side effects, it’s time to consider DBS.

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References:

  • WebMD
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Cook Children’s Medical Center

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