Deep Brain Stimulation


What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure in which thin electrodes are implanted in the brain, providing precisely applied electrical currents to help control irregular body movements. This proven procedure is not experimental and is currently FDA-approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, epilepsy, and dystonia symptoms; however, it does not cure the underlying disease.

How It Works

What happens during the surgery?

During the procedure, electrodes are stereotactically implanted in specific parts of the brain, then connected to a battery placed below the collar bone in the chest, similar to a pacemaker.

Are patients awake or asleep?

We provide DBS surgery using both asleep and awake options. In the past, DBS surgery was always done while the patient was awake, to allow test stimulation to verify the placement of the electrodes. Surgical innovations now allow us to place the patient under general anesthesia and use CT scanning during the operation to confirm accurate electrode placement.

Is awake or asleep surgery better?

Published outcomes in medical journals show similar results for both surgical approaches. One key difference is that asleep DBS surgery does not require patients to hold their medications beforehand.

How effective is DBS?

In randomized clinical trials, DBS has proven to be more effective than continued medical management alone. For patients with Parkinson’s disease, DBS has been shown to remarkably increase the amount of “on” time with good symptom control, and many patients are able to reduce their medications significantly after the surgery.

Post-operation, the DBS electrical current can be turned off if needed and fine-tuned for optimal symptom control using a wireless programmer.

As with any surgery, there are risks and potential complications, but this surgery is well-tolerated for the vast majority of patients.

Who It Helps

Who is a good candidate for DBS surgery?

Movement disorder patients who are in good overall health and able to tolerate surgery may be good candidates, including:

  • Patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease diagnosed for at least 4 years, who have medication-related side effects (such as dyskinesia)
  • Patients with Parkinson’s disease who have significant motor fluctuations on medications (on/off phenomenon)
  • Patients with Parkinson’s disease who have uncontrolled symptoms (such as tremor) even on medication
  • Patients with a formal diagnosis of essential tremor who have continued tremor despite medications or have failed multiple medication trials
  • Patients with a formal diagnosis of primary dystonia who have not responded to other options (medications and/or Botox® injections)

How will I be evaluated for surgery?

All potential candidates for DBS surgery must undergo an overall health assessment, neuropsychological testing, and evaluation by the Aurora Movement Disorder Multidisciplinary Conference, a team of professionals across a range of relevant medical fields.

For those determined to be a good fit for DBS surgery, the Aurora Multidisciplinary Conference will then select the specific surgical approach that is recommended for each individual patient.

Why Aurora?

We’re leaders in innovation.

At the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute (ANII), a multidisciplinary team of world-renowned specialists and experts work together to combine proven surgical approaches with cutting-edge technologies and medical techniques.

Combined with our patient-centered approach, these capabilities create a truly best-in-class patient experience with a focus on better surgical outcomes and improved patient safety. Our team offers comprehensive, innovative and experienced care to address a wide variety of movement disorders and offer you individualized treatment plans.

DBS Right For You?

Our specialist, Kyle Swanson can help answer your questions and discuss treatment options.