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What is deep brain stimulation (DBS)?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting an electrode in the brain to deliver continuous high-frequency electrical stimulation to various parts of the brain that control movement. This stimulation is thought to suppress overactivity in areas of the brain that are affected by Parkinson's disease. The lay press calls it a pacemaker for the brain, which is a useful description. Just like a pacemaker for the heart controls abnormal electrical activity in the heart, the DBS controls abnormal electrical activity in the brain. For example, when we map the brain to put in the DBS electrodes we may hear tremor cells firing in the brain. Once the DBS is turned on, the firing of these tremor cells can be suppressed. In most cases we are able to find the sweet-spot electrode that gives the best control of symptoms with the least side effects.

Deep brain stimulation is a surgery during which electrodes are placed into a patient’s brain to be programmed at a later date. It can help with tremors and muscle contractions.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an option for treating Parkinson's disease when medications may not be working.

The most commonly performed functional neurosurgery procedure is deep brain stimulation, which is approved for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, torsion dystonia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Deep brain stimulation is considered when medications fail to adequately control symptoms or cause intolerable side effects.

Dr. Nader Pouratian, MD
Neurosurgeon

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is like a pacemaker for the brain. A deep brain stimulator system has two components: the wires that are implanted carefully into deep parts of the brain and a generator that is implanted in the chest. The generator sends specific impulses deep into the brain to restore normal activity and neurological function.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.