Deep Brain Stimulation

Since its FDA approval in 1997, deep brain stimulation (DBS) has dramatically changed the lives of patients with movement disorders. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation states that about 75,000 patients have received DBS treatments worldwide.

What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

DBS is a neurosurgical treatment involving the implantation of a fine electrode wire and pulse generator. These devices stimulate the brain with mild electrical signals and reorganize the brain’s electrical impulses, producing significant improvements for those with uncontrollable tremors.

What Conditions Does DBS Treat?

DBS provides relief to otherwise treatment-resistant movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. Oftentimes, patients feel they have been given their life back because they are able to resume normal daily activities and reduce their reliance on anti-tremor medications.

The Treatment Process

Deep brain stimulation is a multi-stage process that requires a commitment to ongoing follow-up care. The phases and timing will vary for each unique situation, but a typical process will include the following steps:

Stage 1 – Screening and Evaluation

A DBS-coordinating neurologist, along with a neurosurgeon, physical therapist, and neuropsychologist, will perform a comprehensive evaluation and screening on the potential patient to determine if he or she is a good candidate for DBS.

Stage 2 – Presurgical Planning and Mapping

One week prior to surgery, the patient will have 4-5 small fiducial (metal) markers placed in the skull, then undergo an MRI or CT scan. The neurologist will then map out where to place the electrode wire and identify a safe trajectory to those coordinates.

Stage 3 – Implant DBS Leads

The surgical procedure is performed under local anesthesia, and the patient remains awake. Neurologists will drill 1-2 dime-sized holes into the skull. Micro-electrodes will then be passed into the brain through these holes to record brain activity and identify the best location for the DBS lead. The final electrode is placed and turned on temporarily, and the clinical effect is tested. This procedure requires an overnight hospital stay.

Stage 4 – Implant Neurostimulator

To assess lead placement, the patient will receive an MRI. Two to three weeks later, a generator is placed in the chest under the clavicle and connected to the electrode in the head.

Stage 5 – Programming and Tuning

Immediately following DBS treatment, the patient will be seen by the coordinating neurologist for the initial “programming” of the deep brain stimulator. Periodically, the coordinating neurologist will perform noninvasive “tuning” of the stimulator to ensure optimal control and management of symptoms.

Why Choose NGPG

Patients who undergo deep brain stimulation will maintain a lifelong relationship with their coordinating neurologist. NGPG makes that relationship easy by providing convenient, local care out of our two outpatient offices in Braselton and Gainesville. Patients who choose NGPG can expect to receive high-quality care from board-certified specialists who understand the toll movement disorders can take on patients’ day-to-day quality of life and will develop a treatment plan appropriate for them.

Get Started

If you or a loved one is living with uncontrollable tremors or is seeking DBS, NGPG can help. To request an appointment, please call our office phone at (770) 219-6520 or fill out the contact form below.