UT Health Physicians

Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

Related to: Parkinson’s disease, tremors, dyskinesias

Man carrying woman on back

What is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)?

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Surgery involves the placement of electrodes in specific areas of the brain that control movement. The electrodes are connected to a device called a neurostimulator, which is implanted under the skin in the chest. The neurostimulator sends electrical signals to the brain, which can help reduce the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

How Does DBS Work?

DBS works by disrupting the abnormal electrical signals in the brain that cause Parkinson's symptoms. The electrical signals sent by the neurostimulator help to normalize the brain's activity, which can reduce fluctuations in symptom control and dyskinesias (involuntary movements). 

When is the ideal time to consider DBS Treatment?

Not all patients are candidates for this treatment. A thorough screening through careful evaluation of patients before surgery is important to ensure the ultimate benefit from this complicated procedure. 

It is generally recommended for patients who have developed on/off fluctuations.  Candidates for DBS are evaluated by a neurosurgeon to determine if they are good candidates for the procedure.  This often occurs five years into the course of Parkinson’s disease but can be earlier or later.

Key Points to Consider:

  • Experiencing medication-related side effects such as dyskinesias or fluctuations in symptom control.
  • Experiencing significant motor symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement that are not responsive to Levodopa drugs such as Sinemet.
  • Absent dementia and able to participate in the necessary evaluations and follow-up care associated with DBS.  Family support is often helpful or necessary.
  • Evaluated by a movement disorders specialist and have been determined to be a good candidate for DBS.

What are the Benefits of DBS?

DBS can provide significant relief from the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease and also reduce the risk of complications associated with long-term medication use.  The benefits include:

  • On/Off dyskinesias
  • Reduction in medication needs
  • Reduction in side effects from medication
  • Sometimes tremor control is better than medications

How successful is DBS?

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a well-established treatment for Parkinson’s disease that has been studied extensively. It is important to remember that DBS is not a cure for Parkinson’s disease, and it does not halt the progression of the disease.

Learn if you’re a candidate for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. Schedule an appointment with our Deep Brain Stimulation neurosurgeon, Alexander Papanastassiou, MD. Call 210-450-9060.