Understanding Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a treatment for a variety of diseases. These include Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, dystonia and obsessive compulsive disorder. The list of brain conditions this treatment may help is getting larger.

Patients undergoing DBS surgery have electrodes (small wires) inserted into specific parts of the brain. The wires are attached to a device (called a generator). It can deliver precise doses of electricity to the targeted parts of the brain. Patients are referred for DBS because the do not respond well to medicine.

While it is not fully understood how DBS works, it is believed that it electrically alters brain function because it "adjusts" the brain circuits. DBS is a reversible therapy. Simply turn off the generator or take out the electrodes and its effects will stop. DBS does not cure the underlying disease, but helps to control the symptoms.

The purpose of these notes is to give you a step-by-step guide to this important and possibly life-changing treatment.