Several brain conditions can be improved by the placement of electrodes deep in the brain and connecting them to a pacemaker-like device to deliver carefully controlled electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain. Many of the most devastating symptoms of Parkinson's disease will respond to such treatment. The system is called a Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS). After extensive evaluation and treatment, patients may be referred for placement of deep brain stimulators. Surgery is often performed with the patient awake to assure the optimum placement of the electrodes in the brain. The electrodes are connected to a neurostimulator implanted near the collarbone. The neurostimulator runs on a small battery and a computer chip is programmed to send electrical pulses to the targeted areas to control symptoms. A medical professional can program and adjust the stimulator non-invasively to help maximize symptom control. Tremors, dyskinesias (involuntary movements), and some psychiatric conditions may also be treated with deep brain stimulators.
Some other types of functional surgeries performed at Carilion include:
- Spinal cord stimulators
- Vagal nerve stimulators
- Intrathecal drug delivery pumps
- Percutaneous treatments of trigeminal neuralgia