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For the first part of the surgery that involves brain mapping, the patient is conscious or may have light sedation. It is interesting that the brain itself has no nerve endings, so we are able to map the brain with electrodes without the patient suffering any pain. The reason we need the patient to be awake is that we listen for signaling patterns of the brain cells that allow us to target the overactive areas with accuracy. We are also able to look for improvements in tremor and speed of movement in the operating room, and thus need the patient to be awake and cooperative.
The goal of deep brain stimulation, which is generally referred to as DBS, is to improve function and quality of life. That is best achieved by being able to interact with you during surgery to make sure we’re getting the benefits from the stimulation while limiting the side effects. However, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of being awake, the surgery can be done while you are asleep (sedated).
This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.
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