Deep brain stimulation

What is deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of electrodes in certain areas of the brain to help people with a variety of neurological disorders.

Why is deep brain stimulation performed?

Deep brain stimulation is a treatment for movement disorders and for people who cannot control their symptoms with medication. DBS is used to treat the following neurological conditions:

  • Tremors
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

What is the procedure for implanting deep brain stimulation?

Two separate surgeries must be performed for deep brain stimulation to be implanted. After performing an MRI scan to locate the appropriate site in the brain, the surgery implants the electrodes in the brain. A stereotactic frame is attached to hold the patient’s head still during the procedure. Once the scalp is numbed, the thin wire with electrodes is implanted and a neurostimulator is also implanted near the collarbone. The patient must be awake so that the neurologist and surgeon can ask questions, ensuring that the correct areas of the brain are stimulated. A day later, the neurosurgeon implants a pulse stimulator in the patient’s chest in chest wall surgery. A small opening is made behind the ear and the extension wire is passed under the skin to connect to the neurostimulator. The stimulator is programmed to send electrical pulses to the brain.

Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of electrodes in certain areas of the brain.

How does the DBS system work?

The DBS system uses an implanted pulse generator, a lead (called an electrode) and an extension wire. The lead is implanted in the target region of the brain. The extension cable is placed under the skin and connects the lead to the implanted pulse generator, which then sends electrical signals. Deep brain stimulation changes brain activity and is associated with an increased release of an energy-carrying module called adenosine triphosphate, which is found in the cells of all living things. This release creates an accumulation of adenosine, which once activated triggers a process that reduces both the tremor and any adverse effects caused by DBS.

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What are the risks associated with deep brain stimulation?

Stimulating the brain can cause side effects. Such as surgery involves making small holes in the skull to implant electrodes, and surgery to implant a device containing the batteries under the skin in the chest. The risks of surgery can lead to bleeding in the brain, stroke, breathing problems, heart problems and seizures. Therefore, the patient should really consider whether this is the procedure he or she wants to have.

What are the benefits of deep brain stimulation?

DBS implantation helps relieve symptoms in patients suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, where medications do not control tremors. According to Medical News Today, results from a two-year clinical trial have shown that DBS improves the overall quality of life and social functioning of patients in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. DBS may also help with walking difficulty and dystonia.