Deep Brain Stimulation Southern California

What Is Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is basically a pacemaker for the brain. Rather than putting electrodes in the heart, electrodes are placed in a very precise manner deep in the brain to treat an array of neuropsychiatric conditions.  With deep brain stimulation, we are targeting deep circuits of the brain where there is abnormal brain activity. The precise target used depends on the diagnosis, symptoms, and other patient specific factors.

There are three components to the system used in deep brain stimulation. All of these components are implanted under the skin.

  • The electrodes or leads – The actual wires implanted deep into the brain
  • The generator or IPG – The battery pack that generates the electrical impulses
  • Additional wires used to connect the generator to the electrodes or leads.

The generator is programmed to cater to the specific needs of each individual patient. The disease or condition being treated, the specific symptoms being experienced, and the unique brain anatomy of the patient are all taken into consideration when programming the generator.

How is DBS Surgery Performed?

Am I A Good Candidate?

Before being eligible for deep brain stimulation, patients should try first line therapies to treat their conditions, including medications and non-invasive therapies.  If these options fail to provide results or they work but cause side effects, deep brain stimulation can be considered. Conditions and disorders that can be treated with deep brain stimulation include:

Learn More About Deep Brain Stimulation

What to Expect

Deep brain stimulation can provide significant relief and make the condition or disorder being treated much more manageable, but it is not a cure. Patients should have realistic expectations regarding the results they receive from the procedure. Deep brain stimulaton does not work instantly. Rather, once it is implanted, it requires monthly or quarterly visits for programing the device to achieve best outcomes. Benefits may take 6 months to be realized.

There are some risks associated with deep brain stimulation. Specifically, risks can be thought of 3 broad categories:

Perioperative Risks (around the time of surgery)

  • Bleeding (~1%)
  • Infection (~4%)
  • Seizure (~1-2%)
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Delirium/confusion

Device Related Risks

  • Discomfort from the implant, including bowstringing
  • Erosion
  • Need for battery replacements
  • Wire or circuit problems in the future

Stimulation Related Risks

  • Speech difficulties
  • Walking difficulties
  • Muscle twitching
  • Memory difficulties

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