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What is deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation is a neuromodulation technique used by specialists to treat a wide range of movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease and tremor.

It involves the use of very small wires (electrodes) that deliver high-frequency electrical stimulation to affected parts of the brain. The electrodes are attached to a small electrical device that sends out pulses similar to a pacemaker.

Patients must be carefully selected and often have conditions that have not responded to other treatments.

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What is it used to treat?

Normal movement is controlled by a series of precise brain signals that create networks of activity. Different parts of the brain are responsible for fine-tuning these networks. When these areas become damaged or behave abnormally, the signals are disrupted and movement becomes affected.

This can result in a number of conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, tremor or dystonia. Deep brain stimulation is used to stimulate the deep parts of the brain that are damaged and causing the symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the part of the brain responsible for movement, also known as the basal ganglia. It is most commonly known to cause a tremor (shaking or trembling) of the hands, but can also affect walking and initiation of movements.

Other symptoms include problems with sleep and mood changes. Some of the more resistant symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can also be improved using deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation works well to control the symptoms, but it isn’t a cure and won’t stop Parkinson's disease from getting worse.

Many people have seen real benefits from deep brain stimulation, but it is important to remember that it is not suitable for everyone. Our specialist experts here at The London Clinic can discuss whether this is a beneficial treatment option for you.

Dystonia

Dystonia is a condition that is characterised by sustained, uncontrollable muscle contractions. These most commonly occur in the neck, arms or legs and are described as either focal or generalised depending on the number of muscles they affect.

Dystonia can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition and can have an impact on quality of life. Deep brain stimulation has been successfully used in the treatment of dystonia and is approved by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence).

Here at The London clinic, we are careful about choosing the right treatment for each patient. We ensure that each treatment involves a multidisciplinary team specialising in care of patients with movement disorders.

Tremor

Tremors are an uncontrollable shaking or trembling. Tremor most commonly affects the hands, but can also affect the arms, face, eyes, voice, trunk or legs. There are many causes of tremor, and deep brain stimulation has shown good results in treating most tremors.

There is evidence to support the use of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of patients who have tremors that are resistant to other treatments.

Here at The London Clinic, we are careful about choosing the right treatment for each patient. We ensure that each treatment involves a multidisciplinary team specialising in care of patients with movement disorders.

How is it performed and what is involved?

Normal movement is controlled by a series of precise brain signals that create networks of activity. Different parts of the brain are responsible for fine-tuning these networks. When these areas become damaged or behave abnormally, the signals are disrupted and movement becomes affected.

What are the risks?

Our priority at The London Clinic is to ensure we get the best results for our patients. Deep brain stimulation surgery will only be offered after a clinician and patient agree it is the best option and there has been a comprehensive pre-operative assessment.

Deep brain stimulation is an effective procedure with a good safety profile.  It is minimally invasive, but as with every surgery, there are some risks to consider. These include

 

  • Side effects from the medication and anaesthetic used during surgery
  • Infection at the site of device insertion
  • Small risk of a deep vein thrombosis (clot in the leg), or pulmonary embolism (clot in the lung)
  • Stroke
  • A breakdown of skin overlying the device
  • Device failure or electrode movement
  • Incorrect stimulation affecting areas of the brain not involved in movement, such as speech. However, as the device can be re-programmed, these are usually easily corrected.

 

It is important to note that most complications are mild and short-lived, and serious permanent consequences of the procedure are rare. One of the key benefits of deep brain stimulation is that it is reversible, meaning it can be switched off or removed at any time without any lasting consequences.

How effective is it?

Movement disorders can be debilitating and can affect every aspect of life. At The London Clinic we are delighted to offer our innovative deep brain stimulation therapy, which is supported by scientific research and delivered by leading experts.

The safety and efficacy of deep brain stimulation has been repeatedly demonstrated in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia One study showed a symptom improvement of over 50% in those with dystonia and a continued improvement over time. For those with Parkinson’s disease, it can also lead to a decrease in, and better tolerance of, medication.

Why choose The London Clinic?

Deep brain stimulation is a rapidly advancing treatment for many neurological conditions. Here at The London Clinic we are committed to delivering effective neuromodulation therapies to the highest standards of care and can offer the very best facilities and equipment. Care is delivered by world-leading specialists in the field of neuromodulation, who work closely in partnership with clinical support teams that are second to none.

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