Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
Patients who are candidates for deep brain stimulation have usually been judged to require surgery for effective treatment of their symptoms. Other surgical alternatives for Parkinson's disease include pallidotomy and thalamotomy, which destroy...
brain tissue to achieve the same effect as the stimulation. Pallidotomy is rarely performed for Parkinson's disease, unless tremor is the only debilitating symptom. It is common in essential tremor. DBS for dystonia is the only really promising neurosurgical treatment for this condition. Some peripheral surgeries may be appropriate for selected patients.
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In neurotechnology, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical treatment involving the implantation of a medical device called a brain pacemaker, which sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain. DBS in select brain regions has provided remarkable therapeutic benefits for otherwise treatment-resistant movement and affective disorders such as chronic pain, Parkinsonâ€™s disease, tremor and dystonia. Despite the long history of DBS, its underlying principles and mechanisms are still not clear. DBS directly changes brain activity in a controlled manner, its effects are reversible (unlike those of lesioning techniques) and is one of only a few neurosurgical methods that allows blinded studies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved DBS as a treatment for essential tremor in 1997, for Parkinson's disease in 2002, and dystonia in 2003. DBS is also routinely used to treat chronic pain and has been used to treat various affective disorders, including major depression. While DBS has proven helpful for some patients, there is potential for serious complications and side effects.
Select comparative data from 1999 to 2006 include an 11 percent increase in the number of neurosurgeons with full-time academic appointments and a 6 percent increase in the number of female neurosurgeons.
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