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What is lesioning?

Doctors learned in the early 1950s that lesioning-or destroying-specific areas in the brain could be helpful in treating certain movement disorders. The symptoms often improved, when areas in the brain involved in the disorder were destroyed.

Lesioning surgeries soon became a standard approach for treating motor control problems caused by caused by conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Nader Pouratian, MD
Neurosurgery
Lesioning is a surgical procedure that is intended to carefully injure a very specific part of the brain in order to improve a patient’s function and quality of life. The specific part of the brain that is “lesioned” depends on the disease. For example, in patient with Parkinson’s disease, the pallidum is lesioned (called a pallidotomy), and in patients with tremor, the thalamus is lesioned (called a thalamotomy). There are multiple ways to cause a lesion, including using a heating probe that is introduced very carefully into the brain (called a radiofrequency lesion), using focused radiation (or radiosurgery), and most recently, using focused ultrasound therapy. While lesioning can be very effective, this technique has largely been replaced by deep brain stimulation, which also causes temporary lesions by stimulating the brain but is reversible and can be personalized.

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