DBS involves the surgical implantation of stimulating wires in a specific deep brain structure, most commonly the Subthalamic Nucleus (STN). Typically, both sides of the brain are implanted in a single operation.
This week the team completed its 1000th STN DBS implantation.
DBS has been used in the management of Parkinson’s disease since 1994. It is estimated that more than 150,000 DBS procedures have now been performed worldwide.
Occasionally, DBS is used in the early years after diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the context of medication refractory tremor or severe medication intolerance. More commonly however, DBS is considered in patients 5-15 years after the diagnosis of PD, when the excellent early response to tablet therapy may have become less consistent, despite adjustments in medications. Here, DBS can be very effective in re-establishing consistent control of physical symptoms, with long lasting benefits.
There are four brain areas that can be targeted for stimulation implantation in Parkinson’s disease. Stimulation of each of these targets offers a varying profile of improvements in Parkinson’s symptoms. This allows the possibility to tailor DBS procedures to target an individual’s specific symptoms.
The most frequently targeted brain area in DBS operations is the STN. STN DBS has been shown to reduce off-severity, improve on-time, reduce dyskinesias, facilitate medication reduction and most importantly, improve quality of life. The STN is the most popular target for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease throughout the world, including Australia, with the 1000 implants taking the team at Sydney DBS 20 years to complete!
DBS is of course not an appropriate treatment for everyone living with PD and the risks and benefits of the therapy need to be carefully considered on a case by case basis. Learn more about DBS surgery here.