Deep Brain Stimulation
Deep brain stimulation involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of your brain. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that regulate abnormal impulses. Or, the electrical impulses can affect certain cells and chemicals within the brain. The amount of stimulation in deep brain stimulation is controlled by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in your upper chest. A wire that travels under your skin connects this device to the electrodes in your brain.
Deep brain stimulation is used to treat a number of neurological conditions, such as:
- Essential tremor
- Parkinson’s disease
Why It’s Done
Deep brain stimulation is an established treatment for movement disorders, such as essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, and dystonia, and more recently, obsessive-compulsive disorder. This treatment is usually reserved for people who aren’t able to get control of their symptoms with medications.
Although deep brain stimulation is generally safe, any type of surgery has the risk of complications. Also, the brain stimulation itself may cause side effects.
Complications of surgery may include:
- Bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage)
- Breathing problems
- Heart problems
- Incision scarring
Possible side effects after surgery
Side effects associated with deep brain stimulation may include:
- Memory problems
- Temporary pain and swelling at the implantation site
A few weeks after the surgery, the device will be turned on and the process of finding the best settings for you begins. This process may take several months. Some settings may cause side effects, but these often improve with further adjustments of your device.
Possible side effects of stimulation
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Muscle tightness of the face or arm
- Speech problems
- Balance problems
- Unwanted mood changes, such as mania and depression
Deep brain stimulation won’t cure your disease, but it may help lessen your symptoms. If deep brain stimulation works, your symptoms will improve significantly, but they usually don’t go away completely. In some cases, medications may still be needed for certain conditions. Deep brain stimulation isn’t successful for everyone. There are a number of variables involved in the success of deep brain stimulation. It’s important to talk with your doctor before surgery about what type of improvement you can expect for your condition.