What are advanced medical therapies?
Advanced medical therapies are used when standard medicines are not effective. Many are in the form of an infusion connected to a pump device that continuously releases a steady flow of medicine into the body. This allows symptoms to be controlled over a longer period of time than standard medicines.
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What are they used to treat?
Advanced medical therapies are usually recommended if the effects of standard medicines are wearing off more quickly than they used to. Most patients will have tried multiple different medicines and/or patches before infusion therapies are considered.
An example of an advanced medical therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is an infusion called Duodopa (a levodopa and carbidopa combination). Parkinson’s disease occurs when the part of the brain that produces a chemical messenger called ‘dopamine’ deteriorates. This can cause symptoms like stiffness, involuntary shaking (tremor) and slow movements.
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, medicines can improve symptoms by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Initially, the benefits of these medicines will last throughout the day, however over time their effects can start to wear off more quickly.
Duodopa provides a constant flow of medicine through the day. It allows symptoms to remain consistently well controlled and reduces the number of tablets that need to be taken.
Advanced medical therapies are also used in people who develop involuntary movements called dyskinesias. These patients can benefit from having a steady flow of medicine that is spread out over a long period of time.
What do they involve?
Duodopa, and some other infusion therapies, are delivered via a tube that is directly inserted into the gut (small intestine). A small procedure is required to insert the tube.
Alternatively, infusion therapies may be delivered via a small needle placed underneath the skin. A small pump is then attached to the infusion to allow regulation of the medicine. The medicine usually comes in the form of a small cassette that is connected to the pump.
What are the risks?
The side effects of advanced medical therapies like Duodopa are the same as those of the regular medicines for Parkinson’s disease. These side effects include:
- Low blood pressure
There are also some small risks that are unique to this type of medication delivery system. These include:
- Infection or inflammation at the site where the tube enters the body
- Clogging of the tube, which can cause reduced absorption of the medicine
- Leaks in the connectors and leaks of gastric fluid
- Bleeding and stomach aches, specifically during tube placement.
If oral medication for Parkinson’s disease causes side effects in a patient, they are likely to also experience the same side effects with the infusion therapy.
How effective are they?
Research has shown that advanced medical therapies like Duodopa can improve movement in people with Parkinson’s disease. This can improve quality of life and reduce the anxiety of both patients and their caregivers. The infusions also showed reduced fluctuations in symptoms that are seen in advanced Parkinson’s disease.
Why choose The London Clinic?
The London Clinic differs from other private hospitals. As a charity, we believe in bringing the most expert care to every patient. We offer cutting-edge technology and a unique multidisciplinary team approach, with leading specialists in Parkinson’s disease and clinical support teams that are second to none.