Get Started

MRI-compatible DBS

Be sure to ask your doctor about them. Learn more

  • About DBS Therapy

     

    Why consider DBS now?

    If your Parkinson's medications are not working as well as they used to, it's time to learn about DBS Therapy. Find out how DBS helps people and watch before and after videos.

    What Is DBS Therapy?

    Here's how DBS Therapy works.

    Benefits and safety of this treatment option

    When used along with medication, DBS Therapy gives patients an average of 5 more hours of symptom-free time every day1. Explore this and other benefits and the safety considerations.

    Seeing a Parkinson's specialist

    A neurologist who specializes in movement disorders including Parkinson's will be your best resource for DBS Therapy. How to find the right doctor and seek an evaluation.

    Procedure and programming to start therapy

    DBS Therapy provides long-term relief of Parkinson's disease through a small, pacemaker-like device that a doctor places in your body. Here's what to expect during the procedure and the programming of the system.

    FAQs about DBS Therapy

    Get answers to frequently asked questions, for example: Is DBS what Michael J. Fox had? Is DBS just for tremor? Is it safe to have medical tests with the system implanted?

     
    References
    1. Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2013.
  • Why Consider DBS Therapy Now?

    The medicines used to treat Parkinson's disease are normally very effective for treating symptoms at first. Over time, many people find that these medicines do not work as well as they are used to, and Parkinson's symptoms are affecting their quality of life. When this happens, their doctors make changes to their therapy. At the time medicines stop working as well, one option that may be right for you is called DBS Therapy.

    How DBS Helps

    DBS Therapy for Parkinson's has been approved by the FDA to treat shaking, stiffness, or difficulty moving. DBS Therapy has helped people continue working, care for their families, return to favorite activities, and experience the joy of doing the simplest things in life again.

    Clinical evidence1 has shown that when added to medication DBS:

    1. Provides 5 additional hours of good movement control each day compared to medication alone.
    2. Improves quality of life more than medications alone and makes routine daily activities easier.
    3. Significantly reduces medication use, which may mean fewer medication-related side effects.

    Watch DBS in Action

    These before and after videos show how DBS Therapy helps control movement. Please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to these particular people.

    All videos come here

    The Right Time for DBS

    As you know, the symptoms of Parkinson's get worse over time. During the course of the disease, there is a period when DBS Therapy can do the most good to help control your symptoms. The right time for DBS is when your body stops responding to medication as well as it used to, but before your medicine stops working completely. If you wait too long, DBS Therapy will not be an option.
    So don't think of DBS as something for later, but as something to explore now.

    Signs Levodopa Is Losing Effectiveness

    You are probably taking levodopa to control your movement symptoms. Brand names include Parcopa, Sinemet, and Stalevo.*

    After 2 to 5 years, many people find that levodopa is becoming less effective at controlling their symptoms. Signs to watch for include:

    1. More hours a day with symptoms.
    2. Longer waits for relief to kick in after taking a dose.
    3. Wearing off of the medication between doses.
    4. Needing to take it more often, including at night.
    5. Drug-induced side effects like uncontrolled movements.

    Time to Talk to Your Doctor

    If you are seeing signs that your medication is losing effectiveness, refuse to surrender to Parkinson's. Don't just let Parkinson's take time away from you. Ask your doctor or a specialist now if DBS Therapy may be right for you.

    If you are at the point when medication alone is still working well for you, ask your doctor about DBS Therapy at your next appointment. Know your options for the road ahead. By not waiting until the last minute, you’ll be prepared to make a decision whenever you need to.



    References
    1. Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2013.
  • What Is DBS Therapy?

    DBS Therapy is a treatment for movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including shaking, stiffness, or difficulty moving. DBS Therapy gives you more relief without giving you more medicine.

    How DBS Works

    During DBS Therapy, a small, pacemaker-like device sends electronic signals to an area in the brain that controls movement. These signals block some of the brain messages that cause annoying and disabling motor symptoms.

    The device is placed under the skin in the chest (not in the brain). Very thin wires connect the device to your brain to enable the signals to reach the source of your symptoms.



    What to Expect During Therapy

    Following the procedure, your doctor adjusts the settings to optimize the therapy for you. Getting the initial settings right for you may take several sessions. Over time, your settings are then adjusted as your symptoms change.

    Most people don’t feel the stimulation at all as it reduces their symptoms. Some people may feel a brief tingling when the stimulation is first tuned on.

    A few weeks after the procedure, you can go back to your normal daily activities. Always following your doctor’s instructions, you can gradually try activities that had become difficult for you.

  • Benefits and Safety

    DBS Therapy extends the control you already get from your medication for movement symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Here you can find out about the benefits of DBS Therapy and safety considerations. Then you will be prepared for a conversation with your doctor about whether DBS Therapy may be right for you. The following benefits compare DBS with medications versus medications alone.

    Treats Tremors and More

    DBS Therapy has been approved by the FDA to treat movement symptoms of Parkinson's: shaking, stiffness, and difficulty moving.

    5 More Hours of Good Movement Control

    DBS provides 5 additional hours of good movement control each day compared to medication alone1. Think about what 5 more hours a day would mean for you.

    Improves Quality of Life

    DBS Therapy improves quality of life more than medications alone.1

    Makes Routine Daily Activities Easier

    DBS makes it easier to do routine daily activities1 like take a bath, get dressed, write clearly, and drink from a glass.

    Significantly Reduces Medication Use

    Most DBS patients take less medication, reducing medication-related side effects like sudden twists and rolling movements. In a clinical study, by six months DBS had reduced medication-related side effects by 44%.1

    Less medication may also simplify your medication routine, with fewer pills or less frequent doses.

    Established Therapy for Over 10 Years

    While DBS may be new to you, it's been helping people with Parkinson's for more than 10 years. Today, it is used all over the world. Over 100,000 patients have received DBS Therapy for Parkinson's disease, dystonia*, or essential tremor.2

    Programmed for Your Needs

    Your doctor programs the device to best control your individual symptoms. This is done wirelessly. The system can also be turned off if necessary. You may have a controller that will allow you to turn the system on and off, adjust the stimulation, and check the battery.

    MRI Conditionally Safe

    Someday you may need a magnetic resonance image (MRI) head scan to diagnose the cause of a common condition, such as hearing loss, headache, vision problems, seizures, tumors, or stroke. All Medtronic DBS systems are designed so that an MRI head scan is possible with proper safeguards.

    Keeps Your Future Options Open

    DBS Therapy will not reduce your future therapy options. DBS Therapy is reversible and the system can be removed (unlike other surgical options). Down the road, you can continue medications and take advantage of new treatments, or even a cure.

    Safety Information and Risks

    DBS Therapy is not for everyone, so it's important to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks.

    In one study, 99 percent of serious adverse events associated with Medtronic DBS Therapy were resolved by 6 months.3

    Risks of brain surgery may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, seizures, and infection. Some of these may be fatal. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead or lead/extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS Therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return.

    Medtronic DBS Therapy may cause worsening of some motor symptoms associated with your movement disorder, and may cause speech and language impairments. Stimulation parameters may be adjusted to minimize side effects and attain maximum symptom control. In patients receiving Medtronic DBS Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide have been reported. Occurrence of falls has also been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease.

    For complete safety information about Medtronic DBS Therapy, please consult your doctor, contact Medtronic at rs.indianeuro@medtronic.com or go to Important Safety Information.

    * Humanitarian Device: The effectiveness of this device for the treatment of dystonia has not been demonstrated.



    References
    1. Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2013.
    2. Medtronic, data on file.
    3. Weaver FM, Follett KA, Stern M, et al. Bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation vs Best Medical Therapy for Patients with Advanced Parkinson Disease. JAMA. 2009;301(1):63-73.
  • Seeing a Specialist

     

    If you aren't getting the symptom relief you need from medications, talk about DBS Therapy with your neurologist or a specialist right away. That's the best way to get answers to your questions and find out if DBS Therapy may be right for you.

    Finding a Specialist

    Your best resource for information about DBS Therapy will be a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders like Parkinson's disease.

    Talk to your doctor now to see if he or she can provide information on DBS Therapy. If you are not getting the information you need, ask for a referral to a neurologist who is a movement-disorder specialist. Ask that your medical records and test results be sent to the specialist before your appointment.

    You can also find a Parkinson's specialist in your area on your own through the online directory.

    You're in control. Talk to a specialist who understands your needs and options.

    When to Start

    The earlier you discuss your treatment options, the better. For most people, the optimal time to seek advice from one of these specialists is 3 to 5 years after diagnosis.

    As Parkinson's disease progresses, the impact of therapies will be more limited. That's why it is important to speak to a neurologist who specializes in movement disorder about DBS Therapy when you notice a change in the way your body responds to oral medicines.

    Being Evaluated for DBS Therapy

    If you and your doctor are considering DBS Therapy, the next step will be an evaluation to see if you are a candidate. An evaluation typically includes:

    1. A careful medical history.
    2. A neurological exam of your movements (both when they are well controlled by medications, and when not well controlled).
    3. Psychological tests.
    4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain to determine if there are any issues that would pose a risk during the procedure.
    5. Lab tests, such as a blood test to make sure your blood clots properly.
  • DBS Procedure and Programming

    So that you can receive DBS Therapy, a device similar to a pacemaker is placed under the skin in your chest. Very thin wires connect the device to your brain to enable the signals to reach the source of your symptoms. Here's what to expect during and after the procedure that makes therapy possible.

    Having the Procedure

    The duration and steps of the implant procedure can vary, and the procedure typically lasts several hours. The hospital stay is usually a few days for the preoperative tests, planning, implant procedure, and initial recovery before home care.

    Your surgical team will include:

    1. A neurologist
    2. A neurosurgeon specialized in DBS Therapy
    3. Other healthcare professionals

    People who have had the procedure usually describe it as demanding and exhausting rather than painful. Afterwards, you may have some discomfort and soreness that can be managed with pain medication.

    Implanting the Leads

    In the first part of the procedure, your neurosurgeon places the leads in a precise part of your brain. Your brain is mapped with an MRI or CT scan. You will be awake so you can help your surgeon determine the best place for the lead. You will be lightly sedated and will not experience pain.

    Your surgeon may test stimulate areas of your brain while you move your arms or legs, tap your fingers, move your hands, or pretend to drink from a cup. This helps your surgeon find the best lead position to control symptoms like tremor, rigidity, or slowness of movement.

    Implanting the Neurostimulator

    The neurostimulator may be implanted the same day or later. You will be sedated and asleep for this part of the procedure. The surgeon begins by checking to see that the leads are properly positioned. The neurostimulator is placed under the skin of your chest just below the collar bone. The surgeon will also connect the lead to the neurostimulator with extensions that are placed under the skin, leading up from the chest to your neck and head.

    Healing

    People usually go home a few days after the surgery. Healing can take several weeks. Discomfort or pain at the incision sites can be managed with medication. When you are sent home to heal, typically your device will not be turned on until your first programming session.

    For several weeks you will avoid strenuous activity, arm movements over your shoulder, and excessive stretching of your neck. You may gradually want to try activities that were difficult before your surgery. Talk about this with your doctor first, and be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions.

    Programming Sessions

    After you have healed from the procedure, your doctor will program the device to best control your individual symptoms while minimizing side effects. You will return for follow-up sessions to further adjust the settings. Periodic adjustments are a routine part of DBS Therapy.

    After the initial programming, people with tremor may feel a brief tingling sensation, and usually experience relief from symptoms almost immediately. However, results vary. People with other symptoms of Parkinson's disease often do not feel any sensation, and the full effect of the therapy may not be immediate. You will see the best results after the system has been fine-tuned for your specific symptom control needs. It may take several months to reach maximum effect.

    Depending on the system and your therapy needs, you may have a controller that will allow you to turn the system on and off, adjust the stimulation, and check the battery.

    What Are the Risks of the DBS Therapy Implant Procedure?

    DBS Therapy requires brain surgery. Risks of brain surgery may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, seizures and infection. Some of these may be fatal. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead or lead/extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS Therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return.

    Talk to your doctor about the risks that may be applicable to your specific situation.

  • DBS FAQs

    Here are answers to questions that people often ask about DBS Therapy. What do you want to know?

    Questions about Common Misperceptions

    Is DBS what Michael J. Fox had?

    No. The popular actor, who has had Parkinson’s for over 20 years, had a different kind of brain surgery years ago. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is an important source of information about Parkinson’s and a major supporter of research toward a cure.

    Would DBS keep me from using future treatments or cures that may come along?

    No. DBS Therapy will not reduce your future therapy options. DBS Therapy is reversible and the system can be removed.

    Is DBS just for tremor?

    No, DBS also treats stiffness and slow or absent movement.

    Is DBS something to put off as a last resort?

    No! The window of opportunity for DBS Therapy opens when your body isn't responding to medication as well as it used to... but before your medicine stops working completely. If you wait too long, the window will close and DBS Therapy will not be able to help you as much as it could have had you asked about it sooner.



    Questions about Life with DBS Therapy

    How long will it take for the DBS Therapy to work after the implant procedure?

    Typically, a Medtronic DBS Therapy system is not activated until you've healed from the surgery. Your symptoms may decrease at that time. Optimal results are usually achieved after the doctor or nurse who programs your device has gone through multiple programming sessions with you. This process may take several months.

    What does the stimulation feel like?

    Most people don't feel the stimulation at all as it reduces their symptoms. However, some people may feel a brief tingling sensation when the stimulation is first turned on

    Higher levels of stimulation have been described as uncomfortable, jolting, or shocking. If the stimulation changes or becomes uncomfortable, contact your doctor immediately.

    Does the brain stimulation system make any noise?

    No

    Will I be able to resume my normal daily activities?

    For the first few weeks after surgery, you should avoid strenuous activity, arm movements over your shoulder, and excessive stretching of your neck. You may gradually want to try activities that were difficult before your surgery. Talk about this with your doctor first, and be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions.

    Will the neurostimulator show through my clothes?

    Depending on your body build, the neurostimulator may be noticeable as a small bulge under the skin. However, your doctor will try to place the neurostimulator in a place that is most comfortable and cosmetically acceptable.

    Will I be able to increase or decrease the strength of stimulation?

    In most cases, only your doctor can change the strength of stimulation. Depending on the type of neurostimulator you have, you may be able to choose from a range of stimulation settings that your doctor has programmed for you.

    Will my insurance cover DBS Therapy?

    The current government policies provide complete/partial coverage for beneficiaries who qualify as candidates for DBS whereas the private insurance companies typically provide partial coverage for DBS.



    Questions about Safety

    Is it safe to have medical tests with the system implanted?

    Consult your doctor before engaging in any medical treatment or diagnostic test (for example, MRI, mammograms, electrocautery, or heart defibrillation). Diathermy (deep heat treatment) should not be permitted under any circumstances.

    Will I be able to have an MRI scan with a DBS system?

    Someday you may need a magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan to diagnose the cause of various common conditions, such as hearing loss, headache, back pain, vision problems, etc.

    When you have an implanted electronic device, however, you have to be careful about MRI scans.The good news is that all modern Medtronic DBS systems are designed so that an MRI full-body scan is possible with proper safeguards.

    In fact, only Medtronic offers deep brain stimulation systems that have CE-mark approval for MRI full-body scans, under specific conditions of use. Talk to your doctor if an MRI scan is prescribed for you.

    Can stimulation be used during pregnancy?

    The safety and effectiveness of this therapy have not been established for patients who are pregnant.

    What are the risks associated with this type of treatment?

    DBS Therapy requires brain surgery. Risks of brain surgery may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, seizures and infection. Some of these may be fatal. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead or lead/extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS Therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return.

    Medtronic DBS Therapy may cause worsening of some motor symptoms associated with your movement disorder, and may cause speech and language impairments. Stimulation parameters may be adjusted to minimize side effects and attain maximum symptom control. In patients receiving Medtronic DBS Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide have been reported. Occurence of falls has also been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease.

    Talk with your doctor about the risks that may be applicable to your specific situation.



    Questions about Ongoing Therapy

    Is this a permanent procedure?

    Medtronic DBS Therapy is a reversible procedure. It is also adjustable, which means that the stimulation can be adjusted to match changes in your symptoms. The system can also be deactivated or even removed. Removal would require additional surgery.

    What happens if the neurostimulator stops working?

    Your symptoms will return. If you can't determine the possible cause and correct the problem, contact your doctor.

    How long will the neurostimulator battery last?

    On average, and depending on programmed settings, an Activa PC neurostimulator battery lasts 3 to 5 years. The rechargeable neurostimulator lasts for 9 years.

    What happens when my neurostimulator is ready to be replaced?

    Before your battery runs out, you'll need to replace the neurostimulator through a surgical procedure. The DBS Therapy leads and extensions can typically stay in place and be reconnected to the new neurostimulator.