Image from Medtronic website
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established, technologically advanced treatment for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia. It has an emerging role for the treatment of Epilepsy and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
DBS works via an implanted battery (a pacemaker) which delivers electrical current (stimulation) through a wire (electrode) implanted into specific brain regions (targets). To simplify, DBS suppresses abnormal brain signals thereby ‘stimulating’ normal brain activity. There are many targets in the brain where stimulation can be applied – each causing different effects. In an individual patient, a specific target is chosen that best matches the symptoms that need improving. A major advantage is that DBS is reversible – with the aid of a programmer, it is easily turned down or switched off. DBS is not a cure for any condition but aims to improve quality of life.
DBS is a highly specialised treatment. Success requires selecting patients who will benefit, choosing the best available target, the safe and accurate placement of electrodes and then fine-tuning stimulation and medication.
The following is general information on DBS. The exact process in any given patient may vary.
The DBS Process