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Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery is often used to treat movement disorder symptoms when medication is no longer effective. These disorders can include Parkinson’s Disease, essential tremors and dystonia. Common symptoms can include tremors, rigidity, stiffness or walking problems. 

During DBS, surgeons implant a battery-operated “neurostimulator” into the region of the brain that is discharging abnormal electrical currents causing the movement disorder. Similar to a heart pacemaker, this electrotrode delivers electrical stimulation to the part of the brain that controls movements. The stimulation blocks the brain’s abnormal electrical currents, significantly reducing tremors and other movement disorder symptoms. 

DBS requires two surgeries. During the first surgery, a neurosurgeon will implant the neurostimulator. This typically requires a one-night hospital stay. During the second procedure, the DBS electrodes are attached to the generator or battery. As an outpatient procedure, patients are home the same day.

Implanting the Neurostimulator
Before this surgery begins, the neurosurgeon will place the head frame on the patient for precision guidance to the target.  A CT scan or MRI is then performed. Once in the surgical suite, the patient receives local anesthesia and a small incision is made in the skull to insert the microelectrode(s).  With computerized guidance, the microelectrode is precisely placed in a region of the basal ganglia.  A small current is then applied through the microelectrode, confirming the precise location within the brain.  The patient is awake during this part of the procedure.  After the microelectrode recording has precisely located the target, a permanent DBS lead is put in place.  While still in the surgical suite, the DBS lead is connected to an external generator and a brief electrical stimulation is provided. This confirms that symptoms related to the movement disorder have stopped.  After surgery, a CT scan is performed. Patients generally return home the next day. 

Connecting the Neurostimulator
Patients return to Memorial Medical Center one week after surgery so that the DBS lead with connecting wire can be attached to the generator (battery).  This second procedure takes approximately 40 minutes and patients are generally home the same day.  The DBS system is later programmed by a neurology specialist. 

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