Is deep brain stimulation (DBS) a painful procedure?
Surgery to implant the deep brain stimulator is performed under local anesthesia and is not painful, says biomedical engineer and Johns Hopkins University professor, Sri Sarma, PhD. Watch this Healthmaker video to learn more.
So the patient can be awake as you're moving the electrode. In fact, they are awake because we need their feedback to understand
where we should be placing the electrode, whether we hit the target or not. Neurosurgeons use that information. [MUSIC PLAYING]
So the DBS procedure is not painful at all. The actual surgery to get the implant
is done under local anesthesia. So the patient is actually awake. Where they need the anesthesia is
when the neurosurgeon actually performs a craniotomy, which is they have to basically cut the skull
and create a burr hole. So that-- there are pain sensors around the skull, so that you need anesthesia.
But once you expose the brain, there are no pain receptors in the brain. So the patient can be awake as you're moving the electrode.
In fact, they are awake because we need their feedback to understand where we should be placing the electrode, whether we hit the target or not.
Neurosurgeons use that information. They'll say to the patient, move your right arm, and they'll-- as they'll see the response of the neurons
at the tip of the electrode as they're navigating. So it's actually minimally invasive. If you ask a neurosurgeon, you know, how invasive is DBS,
they'll say minimally invasive. When you stick the electrode in the brain, you're not punching holes into the tissue.
It's almost like as you move the electrode in, the tissue kind of moves away from the brain. So it does minimal damage.
You can-- it's reversible, unlike say pallidotomies, which used to be the way they used to treat-- and they still do treat Parkinson's patient--
which is taking lesioning parts of the circuit to try to alleviate these motor symptoms. That's the alternative to medications
was pallidotomies or thalamotomies. And those are not reversible. They're irreversible.
And they are scary. But I would-- DBS, I would say, is not something-- even though it's a chronic implant, I would say,
if I were a Parkinson's patient, although the idea of having an implant is scary, there are--
thousands and thousands of patients have benefited from this treatment. And it hasn't been shown, it hasn't
been proven to do any damage. And like I said, you could always take it out if there are any complications. [MUSIC PLAYING]
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