Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

The role of deep brain stimulation is intended to normalize the activity in specific regions of the brain. Certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, are characterized by irregular signals preventing effective communication between brain regions. In DBS, thin electrodes are placed in the disruptive areas, and small electrical pulses normalize or eliminate the irregular signals.

Using minimally invasive techniques, the electrodes are inserted under the skin of the neck and connected to a pulse generator under the collarbone. Everything is internal, so it’s not noticeable if someone has had DBS surgery.

How DBS Can Help

The primary conditions treated with DBS include Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia.

One of the main advantages of this therapy is DBS remains constant throughout the day while medication fluctuates over time. DBS is always on and complements an optimized medication regimen. Because DBS remains active between medication doses, it helps individuals sustain longer periods of symptom-free activity even after the medication’s effect has worn off.

It improves the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease including tremor, rigidity and slowness. On average, people typically gain four to five hours of productive time a day with DBS. Also, DBS has been shown to improve quality of life. DBS is not experimental; it’s approved by the FDA approved and covered by insurance.

In essential tremor and dystonia, DBS can have a transformative effect on quality of life because of the high rate of symptom control. The vast majority of people experience a significant improvement in symptoms, allowing them to perform work and other daily activities, such as enjoying meals with family and friends.

The Saint John’s Difference

We provide a customized, precise frameless approach during DBS surgery. This system employs a custom-made mini frame that gives the patient more freedom of movement during surgery. The traditional approach requires the patient to be immobilized completely. Given that the patient is completely alert during the procedure, the traditional approach often is a source of discomfort. The frameless procedure, however, improves comfort and reduces surgery time, therefore optimizing recovery, without compromising precision.

Evaluation for DBS is multidisciplinary, meaning both a neurologist and neurosurgeon consult during the same appointment. We’ve found that this is more efficient and convenient for everyone.