Deep brain stimulation is no longer an experimental procedure for people in the most desperate situations. DBS has been used successfully in more than 100,000 patients during the past quarter of a century. A multitude of studies have shown its effectiveness and safety, and deep brain stimulation research and advancements are occurring nearly daily.
Yet millions of patients with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and other motion disorders are suffering today with symptoms that have virtually stopped them from living the type of life they relish. Most of these people are continuing to live with these symptoms either because they have not been provided with accurate information about deep brain stimulation or they do not have access to the procedure.
My name is David VanSickle, MD, PhD, and I am a board-certified neurosurgeon who has performed more than 400 deep brain stimulation procedures over the past seven years. I have seen this procedure literally change lives—not just those who have the procedure but for their loved ones and caregivers as well.
Because of the lack of information – and the abundance of misinformation about deep brain stimulation — I am writing this blog to help provide objective evidence-based information.
Here are just a few of the facts I will be exploring with you:
- Deep brain stimulation is NOT experimental. DBS has been used successfully in more than 100,000 patients. It was approved in 2002 by the FDA and is covered by Medicare and all major insurance companies as a STANDARD treatment.
- Deep brain stimulation can be used for patients in all stages of illness. A study published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients don’t have to wait until their symptoms have become unmanageable to have DBS. And a study published this year in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that DBS increases the lifespan for people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Deep brain stimulation can now be performed while the patient is asleep. The use of CT scanning during surgery made this possible beginning in 2011. While some centers are just beginning to offer asleep DBS, I have been offering it since 2013 and now perform nearly all DBS procedures at the Denver DBS Center this way. This year we became the first in the world to offer robotically guided asleep DBS surgery.