As many as one million Americans live with a movement disorder, with another 60,000 patients diagnosed each year. For those living with these diseases, relief can come in many forms, including medication and exercise therapy. For many, medical management of their symptoms isn’t enough, and a surgical intervention, known as deep brain stimulation, can greatly increase their quality of life.
What is deep brain stimulation?
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a procedure to reduce tremor and to block involuntary movements in patients with motion disorders.
DBS is approved by the FDA and is made up of two separate surgical stages:
- In the first, the patient has a very thin electrode, or lead, implanted into a specific region of the brain. This is done using incredibly sophisticated equipment to allow for precise placement. At the end of the lead are four contacts, which provide adjustable electrical pulses to areas of the brain. Usually, patients will be kept awake for portions of this procedure in order to provide important information and feedback regarding lead placement.
- In a separate procedure, the patient is put to sleep to have the lead connected to a wire called an extension and attached to a neurostimulator generator which has been implanted under the patient’s collar bone or in the abdominal area. A neurostimulator is essentially a brain pacemaker. Its job is to control the release of electrical signals to the region of the brain where the lead is implanted and allows for adjustment in the electrical signals long after surgery.
Mercy's deep brain stimulation program focuses on each half, or hemisphere, of the brain at a time in order to monitor patients more closely. Patients will undergo the procedures described above twice; once for each half of their brain.
Which disorders are treated by deep brain stimulation?
Patients with the following disorders will undergo a series of consultations to determine if DBS is an option for them:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Essential Tremor
- Movement disorders
- Affective disorders, such as treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder
Patients will work closely with our deep brain stimulation team, led by central Iowa’s only fellowship-trained neurosurgeon, specializing in DBS, Esmiralda Henderson, M.D., and a neurologist, Randall Hamilton, M.D. Together, they will monitor your progress and help adjust the electrical pulses from the lead.