What is Deep brain stimulation (DBS)?

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July 2, 2024

What is Deep brain stimulation (DBS)?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a medical treatment involving the implantation of a device that sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain. This technique is primarily used to treat neurological conditions, particularly those that are resistant to medication.

Uses of Deep Brain Stimulation

  1. Parkinson’s Disease: DBS is commonly used to reduce motor symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement.
  2. Essential Tremor: This condition, characterized by involuntary shaking, can be significantly alleviated with DBS.
  3. Dystonia: This is a movement disorder in which muscles contract uncontrollably, leading to abnormal postures. DBS can help manage these symptoms.
  4. Epilepsy: In some cases, DBS can reduce the frequency of seizures in patients who do not respond well to medications.
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): For severe cases of OCD that do not respond to other treatments, DBS may offer relief.
  6. Depression: Research is ongoing, but DBS shows promise for treatment-resistant depression.

How DBS Works

  • Implantation: The procedure involves surgically implanting electrodes into specific areas of the brain, usually the thalamus, subthalamic nucleus, or globus pallidus.
  • Pulse Generator: A neurostimulator, or pulse generator, is implanted under the skin in the chest, similar to a pacemaker. This device sends electrical impulses to the brain via the electrodes.
  • Adjustability: The intensity, frequency, and pattern of the electrical stimulation can be adjusted externally, allowing for personalized treatment tailored to the patient’s needs.

Benefits and Risks


  • Symptom Reduction: DBS can significantly reduce symptoms of the targeted condition, improving the quality of life for many patients.
  • Reversibility: Unlike lesioning procedures, DBS is reversible and adjustable.
  • Medication Reduction: Patients often experience a reduction in their medication doses, which can decrease side effects.


  • Surgical Risks: As with any surgery, there are risks including infection, bleeding, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Hardware Issues: The implanted hardware can sometimes malfunction or need replacement.
  • Side Effects: Some patients experience side effects such as speech or balance problems, mood changes, or unwanted movements.


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What is Deep brain stimulation (DBS)? | Vaid ICS Institute