Deep brain stimulation surgery is generally used to inactivate the parts of the brain that cause diseases such as Parkinson’s and other associated movement disorders. This procedure is done without causing any damage to the brain. In this procedure, electrodes are placed at specific points in the brain and are connected by wires to a pacemaker. This pacemaker is also called an impulse generator. This pacemaker is placed in the chest under the collar bone. The device is activated and it sends continuous electrical impulses or signals to the targeted areas of the brain. These pulses block the impulses that are the root cause of tremors. The after effects are same as surgery only that it does not have to damage any part of the brain in order to treat the disease.
Patients are provided with special kinds of magnets so that they can turn off the device or turn it on externally as and when required. These stimulators last for around four to five years in patients of Parkinson’s disease. They need to be replaced after that to ensure proper functioning.
How is the surgery performed?
Firstly, the targeted areas are located by the neurosurgeons. MRI is the most common method used to locate these target areas. Some also use the micro electrode recording technique to map the targeted area in the brain where the electrodes need to reach.
As soon as the correct location is identified, the electrodes are implanted in the brain. The loose ends of the electrodes are left under the skin and the incision is closed. All this is done under local anesthesia. On the next day under general anesthesia, the impulse generator is connected with the help of the extension wires to the implanted electrodes.
How long does it take for patients to see symptom relief?
The stimulators are switched on the next day. The patient feels improvement in his symptoms and the medicines are gradually reduced. The titration to the optimal settings may take upto 3 months. Patients should see significant symptoms relief after a few weeks of this procedure. Overall, there should be very few side effects.
What are the advantages of DBS?
- To begin with, deep brain stimulation does not require a deliberate destruction of any part of the brain.
- There are fewer complications involved as compared to surgery.
- The electrical stimulation is adjustable and can be increased or decreased as required.
- There is no further surgery required for changing anything.
- Destructive surgery limits the chances of further cure or surgery as the part of the brain is already damaged. With deep brain surgery this is not the case. You can easy make changes in the impulses or the intensity of the impulses for further treatment.
- Deep brain surgery is a relatively safe procedure that involves fewer risks.
- The quality of life of the patient can be improved
- You can turn off or turn on the stimulator as per the symptoms observed. You need not go in for surgical procedures each time you need to change something.