Frequently Asked Questions – DBS Therapy

What does DBS do?

DBS therapy offers an adjustable, and potentially reversible method for the treatment of symptoms associated with dystonia.

How does the treatment work?

DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device similar to a cardiac pacemaker to deliver electrical stimulation to the parts of the brain that control movement. Stimulation of these areas enables the brain circuits that control movement to function better.

What are the implanted components of the DBS system?

A DBS system consists of three implanted components:

  • One or two leads implanted in the brain
  • One or two extensions threaded under the skin from the head, down the neck and into the upper chest
  • One or two neurostimulators, usually implanted beneath the skin in the chest below the collarbone and connected to the extension (depending on the patient, a surgeon may implant the neurostimulator in the abdomen)

Is it possible to adjust the device settings?

The device settings and stimulation levels can be adjusted noninvasively by a clinician using a programming device.

What benefits does DBS offer?

DBS therapy for dystonia may help control your symptoms, but it is not a cure. When you turn on the brain stimulation system, it will deliver stimulation that may decrease some or all of your symptoms. Your symptoms will return when the system is turned off.

What are the risks of DBS?

Risks of DBS can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Please refer to Benefits and Risks – DBS Therapy for more information.

What is the history of DBS?

Neurologists and neurosurgeons have used electrical stimulation since the 1960s as a way to locate and distinguish specific sites in the brain. Brain stimulation technology was developed in the 1980s.

DBS therapy is currently used in Australia to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. Since 1997, more than 40,000 patients worldwide have received DBS therapy.

Does DBS cure dystonia?

There is no cure for dystonia at this time. DBS treats the symptoms of dystonia.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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