Brain surgery is nothing to take lightly, but for John Bauer, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, deep brain stimulation (DBS) was the clear option for him.
“I was going downhill quickly,” says John, a 65 year-old computer programmer whose Parkinson’s was causing extreme episodes of freezing and stiffness. “DBS was a ‘no-brainer’ for me.”
DBS delivers tiny electrical signals through leads from a generator implanted near the collarbone to one of three target areas of the brain that control movement. Traditional DBS surgery is performed in three procedures with the patient awake. Two years ago, a new surgery, called Asleep DBS, was introduced that reduces the number of procedures to two, allows the patient to be asleep during surgery, and offers more precise lead placement. The Denver DBS Center is one of the few neurosurgery centers in the nation to offer both traditional and asleep DBS.
“I was most interested in the precision of the lead placement that the asleep procedure offers,” Bauer says.
Electrode placement during Asleep DBS takes roughly half the time as Awake DBS and placement is within 1 millimeter of the target as compared to 1-2 millimeters with traditional awake DBS. Nearly 60-70 percent of patients at the Denver DBS Center are now choosing Asleep DBS.
“New studies show that DBS is effective in early stages of Parkinson’s and may even prolong life, so I encourage people to seek information about the procedure sooner than later,” says David VanSickle, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon and founder of the Denver DBS Center.
Dr. VanSickle performed DBS surgery on Bauer in the late summer of 2013. While not a cure, DBS has been shown to improve symptoms and reduce medication use for Parkinson’s disease patients by up to 50 percent.
“My energy level has greatly improved and my symptoms have lessened,” John says, adding that his medication usage has gone down each week since the procedure. The improvements in his health have allowed John to return to photography and chess with more vigor and enjoyment than in the past.
“I really waited three years too long,” says John. “I just wish I would have done this sooner.”
The Denver DBS Center is one of only a few facilities in the world to offer both Awake and Asleep deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Denver DBS Center performs more DBS surgeries than any other Colorado DBS center. Exceptional patient care, superior electrode placement—the most vital aspect of DBS surgery—and a commitment to partnering with patients’ neurologists make the Denver DBS Center the top choice in the region. The Denver DBS Center is an affiliation of Neurosurgery One (formerly South Denver Neurosurgery).