Deep Brain Stimulation

Also known as: DBS.

What is deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure that involves the placement of small wires (microelectrodes) into the movement center of the brain, through which a steady current of electricity is transmitted to the brain from a pulse generator. This allows the brain to better control movements.  It can be used to treat certain brain disorders such as dystonia (the inability to smoothly use or control a muscle like in uncontrolled muscle spasms, repetitive twisting movements, and posturing). (In adults it can be used for Parkinson’s disease and other causes of tremors).

What happens during the procedure?

Surgery is performed to implant electrodes in certain areas of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to pinpoint the proper locations for the electrodes to be implanted. Once the electrodes are in place, a second procedure is performed to implant the pulse generator in the chest. The stimulator settings are adjustable and can be programmed to match the child’s needs. The family receives a device that can monitor and change the settings as needed. The system can be easily removed if necessary.

Is any special preparation needed?

A number of tests, including magnetic resonance imaging, will be performed.

What are the risk factors?

There are a number of minor and serious risk factors which include bleeding, stroke (or stroke-like syndrome), infection, and hardware failure. Your Nicklaus Children’s Hospital group of subspecialists will discuss these with you so your child will have maximum benefit with as little risk as possible.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 7/12/2018 3:46:05 PM


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