Deep Brain Stimulation

The DBS system consists of three components:

A small opening is made in the skull under a local anesthetic. The patient is awake during the DBS surgery to allow the surgical team to assess his or her brain functions. While the lead (electrode) is being advanced through the brain, the patient does not feel pain because of the human brain’s unique inability to generate pain signals. Computerized brain-mapping technology is utilized to pinpoint the precise location in the brain where nerve signals generate the tremors and other symptoms. Highly sophisticated imaging and recording equipment are used to map both the physical structure and the functioning of the brain. The electrodes are connected via wires to an internal pulse generator (IPG) that is placed in the chest wall.

A magnet is used with the IPG to adjust the stimulation parameters so that the appropriate level of stimulation is applied at the electrode tip. The patient is provided with an access control device or handheld magnet to turn the IPG on and off at home. Depending on the application, the battery can last three to five years. When the battery needs to be replaced, the IPG is also replaced, usually under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.