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Deep Brain Stimulation for Epilepsy: Your Questions Answered

neurosurgeon examining diagnostic reports

As one of the most common neurological disorders, epilepsy affects approximately 50 million people globally and 3.4 million people across the United States. The condition affects the central nervous system (CNS) and abnormalizes brain activity. Patients suffer a range of seizures, including focal (partial) seizures and/or generalized seizures.

In most cases, seizures are characterized by temporary confusion, dizziness, uncontrollable rapid movement of the limbs, and unresponsiveness. However, depending on the type and severity of epilepsy, the patient may experience a wide range of additional symptoms ranging from stiffening of the body to loss of consciousness, among others.

Over the years, deep brain stimulation has emerged as one of the most effective treatments for epilepsy. While the procedure is rapidly growing in popularity, people are still getting up to speed with its technicalities and efficacy. We’ve rounded up some common questions to help you develop a better understanding of the cutting-edge treatment.

What Is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation involves implanting electrodes into the brain and, shortly afterward, a generator into the patient’s chest. Once activated, the generator helps regulate abnormal brain activity by sending low-voltage electrical impulses from the chest to the brain.

These impulses help relieve or reduce symptoms of epilepsy, decrease reliance on medication, improve functionality and range of motion, and enhance quality of life.  

Who Qualifies for Deep Brain Stimulation?

Epileptics over the age of 18 can undergo deep brain stimulation surgery provided that they suffer from uncontrolled focal seizures that cannot be treated with medication. The treatment is also effective among patients who cannot undergo other types of surgeries for epilepsy.

Individuals who suffer from seizures that cannot be effectively controlled by antiseizure medication should consult their neurosurgeons to select the right treatment plan for their condition.

What Are the Benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation?

patient with epilepsy consulting a neurosurgeon to seek deep brain stimulation

Unlike conventional treatment plans, deep brain stimulation doesn’t involve the removal of brain tissue. In addition, the effects are reversible. This eliminates the risks associated with brain surgery, which is a potential concern among surgical treatments for the condition.

If the seizures are not effectively controlled, the device can be easily turned off and consequently removed. Following the procedure, the pulse stimulation levels can be adjusted depending on how well the patient responds to different levels. This is a great way to ensure optimal seizure control for each patient.

With no side effects, the treatment is a safe and effective option.

How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?

Prior to the procedure, you will undergo various tests to help your neurosurgeon determine if DBS is the right treatment for you. These may include EEG (electroencephalogram), CT (computed tomography) scans, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, among others. These tests will also help your neurosurgeon locate the ideal position for electrode placement.

We suggest asking your neurosurgeon and nurses any questions that you may have to ensure you’re prepared for the procedure. Feel free to pose preoperative, operative, and postoperative questions. While they’ll offer substantial information, it’s also important that you ask your own set of questions, so you feel comfortable about your preparation for the treatment.

You can also use online forums to ask patients who have undergone DBS in the past for their insights.

If you think that deep brain stimulation is right for you or your loved one, you can find a doctor that’s right for you on our website. Simply click on their profile and make your appointment directly with their office. Our neurosurgeons have successfully performed countless DBS procedures for hundred of patients who have seen marked improvements in their condition. They also offer expert postoperative care to ensure each patient feels their best and is equipped with the knowledge, resources, and tools required to ease into recovery.

We also offer a wide range of other treatments, including knee replacement, hip replacement, physical therapy services, and back surgery in Houston.