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Deep brain stimulation requires a surgical procedure in which multiple elements are implanted. One element is a pacemaker-like device called a neurostimulator that is typically placed in the upper chest. It sends signals to electrodes, also known as leads, which are first implanted in the brain.
For the brain surgery portion of the procedure, the patient is given local anesthetic and fitted with a special head frame to keep the head perfectly still. Then magnetic resonance imaging is used to map the patient’s brain and identify where they’ll put the electrodes. In most cases, the patient remains awake and alert during the procedure so that the neurologist can communicate with them to make sure the right areas of the brain are being stimulated.
The second portion of the surgery, which uses general anesthesia, may occur on the same day or at a later time. The battery-operated pulse generator is placed under the skin near the collarbone and wires are guided under the skin from the electrode to the pulse generator. A few weeks after surgery, the pulse generator is activated. The doctor can program it, and the patient can turn it on and off, using a remote control.
Deep brain stimulation is generally safe, although any type of surgery carries some risk of complications.
Deep brain stimulation has been shown to be effective in treating otherwise treatment-resistant disorders such as:
However, this treatment is reserved for people who aren't able to get control of their symptoms with medications.
For more information on Deep Brain Stimulation email us today. To find a Dignity Health neurologist near you, use our Find a Doctor tool.
For assistance with a physician referral, call 1-888-438-9401.