Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurological treatment requiring a surgical procedure where a neurostimulator is implanted in the chest which delivers electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain. DBS is used to treat tremors, Parkinson’s disease, and dystonia. Treatment using DBS involves a multifaceted and complex surgery – first, an operation inserts the electrical lead and then the neurostimulator and extensions are implanted.
What is it?
DBS therapy treats several neurological disorders. Electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain regulate abnormal neural signals in specific regions of the brain. These electrodes are connected to a generator in the patient’s chest through a wire under the skin. DBS is frequently used when a patient’s symptoms are not well controlled by medications. DBS is currently a treatment option for those suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, epilepsy, and essential tremor.
How to Prepare?
A CT Scan or MRI performed before the procedure will help your neurosurgeon decide where to place the implants. Do not take Motrin, aspirin, Advil, or similar medications for seven days prior to surgery. You will also be asked to discontinue drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix (clopidogrel) before your surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure.
What happens during the Process?
After undergoing an extensive pre-procedure review process to ascertain if DBS is the proper treatment, patients may be awake or asleep during their surgery. Both procedures are similar and take approximately four to six hours to complete. During surgery, doctors will continually perform MRI’s to assure each electrode is precisely placed. First, the neural wires and electrodes are implanted in the patient’s brain. Then, the generator is inserted into the patient’s upper chest. Finally, surgeons connect the leads in the brain to the generator in the chest. Approximately two or three weeks after surgery, the generator is activated to relieve the patient’s symptoms. Some effects may be felt immediately while others require some time before any noticeable improvements are seen.Risks and Complications?
There are a number of complications and risks associated with DBS including bleeding within the brain or infection, stroke, heart and breathing problems, nausea, speech problems, seizures, failure to adequately relieve symptoms, numbness or pain, balance problems, and mood changes (depression or mania).
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