Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is known to affect dopamine producing nerve cells in the brain. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is a known treatment in reducing symptoms.
Before undergoing the surgery, you will have a thorough consultation with your surgeon to decide your eligibility for the surgery. You will also undergo an MRI scan, that will help your surgeon pinpoint your target areas.
Here are the basic steps of the surgery:
Before the placement of the electrodes, you will receive local anaesthesia/light sedation. The surgeon will then make the first incisions on your scalp, on the right and left side right above (in case you are getting a bilateral DBS surgery). Using a drill, holes will be made in the scalp through which the electrodes will be placed in the target areas.
2. During this time, you may be asked to speak, or do basic cognitive activities. This is done to make sure that the electrodes are not affecting any areas.
3. After this initial step, you will be placed under general anaesthesia.
4. Then, the surgeon will make incisions underneath your collarbone or your lower chest or abdomen. This is where the neurostimulator will be placed. This is a battery-powered device, similar to a pacemaker, that creates pulses which travel up to the electrodes in your brain. Then an extension wire connecting the neurostimulator to the electrodes is placed under the skin leading up your neck, behind the ears. Through this the electrical stimulation is sent to the electrodes. This stimulation then blocks any abnormal neuron signals that cause your PD symptoms.
5. Lastly, the incision will be closed.
The device will be programmed later by your medical team. You will also be given a small device through which you can turn the stimulator on and off.
DBS has been available as a form of treatment since the late 1990s. It is now the preferred form of surgery available for people with Parkinson’s disease. You will have a comprehensive consultation and assessment to decide whether you will be eligible for the surgery. This is done to make sure to not put you through an invasive process, unless it will be of assistance. That being said, please bear in mind that DBS is not a cure. It provides relief from symptoms but will not prevent the disease from progressing. Your medications and lifestyle might be altered and the neurostimulator may be programmed a few times to get the full benefit of the surgery.