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Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jan 27, 2023

    Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease

    Deep brain stimulation surgery has become prevalent in the last few years. The procedure is recommended by many experts and has enough studies to prove its effectiveness. 

    In this article, we will comprehensively talk about deep brain stimulation surgery, why patients with Parkinson’s disease are advised to go for this procedure, and what precautions to follow later. 

    What is Parkinson disease?

    Parkinson disease (Parkinson’s disease) is a nervous system disorder that affects everyday movement, for example, walking, talking, and even resting. This condition develops over time and can sometimes take years before it completely shows signs in the body. 

    The most common symptom of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, which means vigorous shaking in the body. These begin in a limb such as your hand. For a tremor to show, your body does not have to be in a mobile state, it can occur even while you’re resting.

    Other symptoms of PD include:

    • speech changes such as slurring, slow, or swift talking
    • persistent imbalance in the body
    • muscle stiffness
    • movement slowness
    • difficulty in writing

    Parkinson’s disease is caused due to the permanent breakage or destruction of certain neurons in the brain. These neurons are responsible for the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger. When the dopamine levels decrease in your body it leads to the above-mentioned symptoms of PD. 

    The exact cause of this disease is still under research, but studies suggest a link between genes and environmental triggers such as pollution. Though, there are cases without the presence of either of these factors diagnosed with PD. 

    Deep brain stimulation surgery is a treatment available for PD patients due to the erratic changes in their movement.

    brain stimulation surgery

    What is (DBS) deep brain stimulation surgery?

    This form of treatment is reserved for those Parkinson’s disease patients that don’t respond well to medication.

    The first deep brain stimulation surgery was done in the Philippines in 2006. As of this writing, further data is needed locally on the effectivity of this surgery. Researchers aim to monitor whether this would result in improved mobility and medication dosage reduction.

    Since the disease limits everyday activity on a prolonged basis, PD can only get worse with age if treatment is not undertaken well in time.

    Deep brain stimulation surgery is a neurological procedure that works like a pacemaker, but for the brain. 

    • For example, take a thread that connects your brain to a generator in your chest. Every time, there is limited movement due to PD, your generator produces current that corresponds to the neurons in your brain, balancing the irregular signals.
    • This means that DBS surgery interrupts the signals that lead to tremors or slowed movements.
    • In this procedure, surgeons implant one or more electrodes in your brain. These are small wires that extend to the region under your collarbone.
    • This extension is insulated and connected to a neurostimulator (in the chest region).
    • These generate current that passes through the insulated lead or leads and goes to your brain.

    Deep brain stimulation surgery can sometimes take one visit or several visits to the doctor. This is because it is a well-programmed procedure that your brain should respond to every time you get a tremor.

    Once the electrodes are properly placed in connection with the neurostimulator, it starts responding. 

    What are the side effects of deep brain stimulation surgery?

    The side effects of deep brain stimulation surgery are limited but do exist.

    These include dizziness, slurred speech, limb muscle weakness, muscle contractions, numbness, or shock sensation. Possible risks such as seizures, bleeding in the brain, or even coma are also part of the list. 

    Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly understand this neurological procedure. Your doctor will take a few tests to determine the best placement of the electrodes.

    Hence, this procedure is not a swift one. It can take some time before you start seeing the results. 

    Who qualifies for deep brain stimulation surgery?

    Since this procedure requires a considerable amount of time and investment, patients who are willing to go through this route should consider it.

    Deep brain stimulation surgery can involve multiple visits to the doctor for procedures, evaluations, and systematic consultations. 

    Though, it is essential to understand that DBS surgery does not lead to a complete cure of Parkinson’s disease. It is merely a way to treat and manage your symptoms, not get rid of them. 

    There are seven types of Parkinson’s disease patients that qualify and benefit from deep brain stimulation surgery: 

    1. Patients who respond to levodopa, a medication for PD. Though as soon as the drug wears off, their symptoms return. 
    2. Patients who have uncontrollable tremors and medications have been unsuccessful in settling their symptoms as well. 
    3. Those who may not be able to take higher or more powerful doses for movement irregularities because of the side effects that come with it. 
    4. Patients who have symptoms that affect their day-to-day lives. 
    5. Those with a history of various PD medications. 
    6. Patients with good responses to PD medications. 
    7. Patients who may have varying experiences of their response to a medication. For example, the medication may work sometimes, and other times it won’t. 

    What precautions to keep in mind?

    If you decide to go for deep brain stimulation surgery, there are certain precautions that you will need to keep in mind. They are: 

    1. If you’re going through the body scanner at the airport, let the authorities know about your neurostimulator. The metal present in them can be detected by the scanner and lead to setting off the alarm. 
    2. If the airport authorities choose to use a hand detector, let them know to not let the devices stay near your neurostimulator for long. The detector contains magnets that can cause friction and hamper the neurostimulator’s functioning. 
    3. If you’re getting an MRI, let your doctor know about your deep brain stimulation surgery. There are certain kinds of MRI you may not be suitable for. 
    4. Remember that your neurostimulator can be affected by the presence of magnetic fields. Therefore, any time you’re near one, be cautioned. For example, maintain a proper distance from radio or television transmitters, high-tension wires, radars, or electric welders. 
    5. Be careful if you’re participating in physical activity such as sports or recreational games. Any direct hit near the neurostimulator can cost you a trip to the doctor. 

    Deep brain stimulation surgery is a calculated procedure that requires physical tests, evaluations, and consultations to make it work. The response of DBS for Parkinsonism can vary from person to person.

    Consult your doctor and understand thoroughly how to go forward with this neurological procedure and whether you qualify for it or not.

    Learn more about Parkinson disease here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jan 27, 2023

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