Deep brain stimulation (or DBS) is a way to inactivate parts of the brain that cause the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and its associated symptoms, without destroying the brain. In this procedure electrodes are placed in the thalamus (to treat essential tremor) or in the globus pallidus and subthalamic nucleus (for Parkinson's disease).
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How Is Deep Brain Stimulation Performed?
Patients having stimulators placed on both sides of the brain may have their surgery divided into two parts. There are several ways in which the electrodes are placed into the target areas of the brain.
- First these areas are located. One way to locate the target areas are by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
- Once the correct location is identified, permanent electrodes are implanted.
- The loose ends are placed underneath the skin of the head and the incision is closed with sutures.
- Patient receives general anaesthesia for the placement of the impulse generator in the chest and the positioning of extension wires that connect the electrodes to the impulse generators.
- Stimulator is usually not turned on for 4-6 weeks after the surgery.
- It may take several months until the simulators and medications are adjusted sufficiently for patients to receive adequate symptom relief.
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How effective is Deep Brain Stimulation?
With deep brain stimulation, majority of people (over 70%) have experienced a significant improvement of symptoms related to Parkinson's disease. Most people are able to reduce their medications.
What should be expected after a Deep Brain Stimulation?
Patient may feel tired and sore but will be given medication and kept comfortable after the procedure. Also, patient may have irritation or soreness around the stitches and pin sites.
The average hospital stay after the surgery is 24 to 48 hours.