Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease

Deep brain stimulation introduction

Deep brain stimulation (or DBS) is a way to inactivate parts of the brain that cause Parkinson's disease and its associated symptoms without purposefully destroying the brain. In deep brain stimulation, electrodes are placed in the thalamus (to treat essential tremor and multiple sclerosis) or in the globus pallidus (for Parkinson's disease).

In deep brain stimulation electrodes are connected by wires to a type of pacemaker device (called an impulse generator, or IPG) implanted under the skin of the chest, below the collarbone. Once activated, the device sends continuous electrical pulses to the target areas in the brain, blocking the impulses that cause tremors. This has the same effect as thalamotomy or pallidotomy surgeries without actually destroying parts of the brain.

The IPG can easily be programmed using a computer that sends radio signals to the device. Patients are given special magnets or other devices so they can externally turn the IPG on or off.

Depending on use, the stimulators may last three to five years. The IPG replacement procedure is relatively simple.

Picture of Deep Brain Stimulation

How Does Deep Brain Stimulation Work?

Experts are unclear how deep brain stimulation works.

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