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Who is a candidate for deep brain stimulation treatment?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is not appropriate for all individuals with dystonia, and not all patients who undergo the procedure will experience the same results. DBS may be considered if medications and other treatments have failed, and if your symptoms affect your quality of life to the extent that the surgical risks are justified. The first step in the evaluation process for DBS is to meet with a DBS-trained movement disorders neurologist.

Dr. Nader Pouratian, MD
Neurosurgeon
In general, potential candidates for deep brain stimulation surgery should be in good general health, have good cognition and have been optimized on their medical therapies. For people with Parkinson's disease, the ideal candidate is someone who responds inconsistently to his medications or has severe motor fluctuations with his medications. For tremor and dystonia, some people do not respond to medications at all, and for these people, treatment with deep brain stimulation can be considered earlier. Deep brain stimulation therapy is not an option for people who are responding to their medical therapies. Instead, it's reserved for those who don't respond consistently.

In general there are a few broad indications for deep brain stimulation (DBS). A tremor that fails to respond adequately to medical treatment, fluctuations in symptoms as are common in later stages of Parkinson's disease, and disabling involuntary movements called dyskinesias. The patient should have a clear-cut response to levodopa (Sinemet) or dopamine agonists in the early stages of Parkinson's disease, although the effect may be fluctuating or may be less predictable at the time surgery is being considered.

The best candidates for deep brain stimulation (DBS) are those with Parkinson’s disease and tremors.

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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.