Deep brain stimulation is not a cure for movement disorders, but it can successfully treat symptoms by disrupting the abnormal patterns of brain activity that become prominent in movement disorders. Deep brain stimulation involves surgically implanting electrodes (small wires through which electricity travels) within deep areas of the brain. These electrodes produce an electrical current which regulates abnormal circuits of the brain. The amount of stimulation is controlled by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin near the collarbone. A wire that travels under the skin connects this device to the implanted brain electrodes.
Deep brain stimulation is used to treat:
- Parkinson's disease
- Essential tremor
- Tourette’s disorder
How Does DBS Work?
DBS surgery is performed in three separate surgeries. These involve the neurosurgeon using imaging scans to pinpoint the correct location in the brain for implanting the electrode, the implantation of multi-contact electrode lead into the brain and connecting the lead to a battery or implantable pulse generator (IPG) that is implanted under the skin of the chest. Once activated, the pulse generator sends continuous electrical pulses to the target areas in the brain, modifying the abnormal activity in the area that is causing symptoms. DBS is often described as a brain “pacemaker” because constant pulses of electrical charge are delivered at settings that are thought to restore normal brain rhythms, allowing the restoration of more normal movements.
Who is a candidate for DBS surgery?
Before being considered a candidate for DBS surgery, patients must undergo an extensive evaluation process. Ideally, a multidisciplinary team of specialists including a neurologist, neurosurgeon, neuropsychologist and psychiatrist will assess the patient.
If patients are well managed on medications, DBS is not considered. Candidates for DBS are generally patients who meet these criteria:
- Symptoms are not well controlled despite receiving the appropriate dose of medications.
- Symptoms are significantly reducing a patient’s quality of life.
- Side effects from current medications cannot be tolerated.
FDA-approved, safe and effective
Deep brain stimulation surgery is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective in controlling abnormal movements that are otherwise difficult to control with medications. Deep brain stimulation is not always successful; there are a number of variables involved in its success and selecting the appropriate patient for surgery at times can be challenging, yet crucial. It’s not a cure; it’s a treatment option available to patients who meet certain criteria to better control symptoms.
For a consultation to see if you or a loved one are a good candidate for deep brain stimulation,
call: (631) 444-1213.