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Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Procedure

The deep brain stiumaltion is a treatment method which tries to relieve the symptoms of the disease by giving electrical currents to the specific areas of the brain that are responsible for the movement disorder via thin electrodes inserted in the brain.

How is the treatment done with a deep brain stimulator?
This method is called “neuromodulation” in medicine, and it suppresses or stimulates the activity of brain cells in an area within the brain by giving electrical currents there.

What is the process of a deep brain stimulation operation?
The operation is done within 4 – 5 hours. It is done in an operation room while the patient is awake, chatting with the patient and getting help from them. Patients do not feel any pain during the operation other than the one caused by a few local anesthesia injections.

What makes the deep brain stimulation operations successful?
During the operation, we need to find the targeted area of 2-3 mm in the brain and insert the electrodes of the neurostimulator in without any mistake. Thanks to a technique called “microelectrode recording and stimulation technique” it is possible to find the location of the cell, which is responsible for the disease with an error margin that is less than 80 microns.

What does a deep brain stimulation operation change in the patient’s life?
The benefit they provide can be summarized as “rewinding the clock of the patient to their healthy life”. After the operation, the patients get better strikingly fast and they can get back to their almost normal life. Many patients who could not hold a fork, thread a needle or even write (Türkçesinde yazıyor), and need help from others to be able to live, are now back to their normal daily lives, and a significant part of them can work again.

Does the deep brain stimulator have a certain lifetime?
Yes, it does.  Like all the other batteries we use, it has a certain lifetime. This may vary between 4-6 years depending on the electric currents it gives. The remaining time of the stimulator is checked during checkups. If it is near to an end, it is changed with another one in a very short operation.

What are the risks of a deep brain stimulation operation?
Like every operation, a deep brain stimulation operation has some risks as well. Thanks to the “microelectrode recording and stimulation technique”, which ensures that the results are extremely successful, these risks are kept to a minimum. In experienced hands, there is only 1% risk for infection and 1% risk of cerebral hemorrhage.

Are there any patients that can not have this operation?
It might not be possible to operate every patient that has a movement disorder. It is decided after a detailed clinical examination and tests whether the patient can have the operation and get benefit from it or not.

What are the advantages of a deep brain stimulator?
DBS is a treatment method that can totally be controlled, programmed and managed. If the patient is not satisfied or experiences problems, it can be turned off, or completely removed.

What are the points that patients need to pay attention after the DBS procedure?
Patients after a deep brein stimulation operation can live a normal life and do all kinds of sports making sure they avoid traumas. Besides that, they can make the alarms go off in places like airports because they have a kind of metal implant and electronics in them. They can be searched manually by showing an ID which certifies that they have an electronic device in their body.

 

SOME FALSE FACTS ABOUT DEEP BRAIN STIMULATORS

Deep brain stimulation is not beneficial for Movement Disorders
Recent scientific and clinic researches show that the deep brain stimulators are extremely beneficial for relieving the symptoms of properly seleceted patients, who had an appropriate diagnosis and operation.

Deep brain stimulation operations have a high risk.
The operation has a very little risk when it is done in experienced hands and with the right technology.

 

Deep brain stimulation can not be used for patients over 70 years old.
For deep brain stimulation operations, age is not a criteria on its own. It can be applied for an 80-year- old patient or a 30-year-old one. If there is no other option of medical treatment and, if the patient is a good candidate for surgical intervention; DBS can certainly be an option for elderly patients.

Deep brain stimulation operations are very expensive.
Social security system covers for the operations done according to the regulation with the correct diagnosis, so they are not financially impossible for most of the patients.

Deep brain stimulation can get rid of the disease completely.
It is possible to rewind the clock back on the disease with deep brein stimulation operations, but they do not make the disease go away. The procedure is aimed to fix the overactivity of the cells that are responsible of the symptoms due to a lack of dopamin in the brain; however, Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the operation can not stop the disease from existing and progressing slowly, even though it can fix the symptoms.