Asleep DBS

The Denver DBS Center’s David VanSickle, MD, PhD, has advanced an evidence-proven Asleep Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) procedure and is one of only a few neurosurgeons worldwide to offer Asleep DBS. First offered by the Denver DBS Center in early 2013, Asleep DBS is now the procedure of choice for 60-70% of Denver DBS Center patients.

Asleep DBS has turned the traditional three-step process into two, while shortening surgery time and improving placement of the electrode. The initial surgery allows for lead planning and placement under general anesthesia (asleep) by utilizing a portable CT machine (CereTom®) to provide intraoperative images that can be overlaid on an earlier MRI. The second surgery entails the implantation of the generator. Electrode placement during Asleep DBS takes roughly half the time as Awake DBS and placement is within one millimeter of the target as compared to 1-2 millimeters.

Highlights of Asleep DBS:

  • No pre-surgery MRI required.
  • Only entails two surgeries rather than three.
  • Shorter surgery time; 2-3 hours compared to 4-6 hours for Awake DBS.
  • More precise electrode placement.
  • Less variation in cost than awake DBS.

A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery evaluating DBS in patients under general anesthesia (asleep) using the traditional procedure found it as safe and effective as the procedure performed under local anesthesia (awake). 

New research shows that asleep DBS for essential is safe and effective. While more research is underway, the initial results show promise for essential tremor patients, who traditionally could only undergo awake DBS due to limitations visualizing, via standard MRI, the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM)—the part of the brain that controls essential tremor movements.

Watch a news story featuring Dr. David Vansickle and a patient who underwent asleep DBS.


Which procedure is right for me?

Are you considering deep brain stimulation but are unsure which procedure is right for you? Download our FREE guide to understand the pros and cons of Awake and Asleep DBS.


Awake or Asleep DBS




Asleep or Awake? Download our free guide on choosing the DBS surgery right for you.