Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

At Tays, we offer deep brain stimulation (DBS) treatment for patients with neurological disorders when medication or other treatments have failed to provide sufficient relief. These patients include, for example, patients with Parkinson’s disease and patients who suffer from tremor for no apparent reason.

In deep brain stimulation, electrodes that affect certain parts of the brain are surgically installed into the patient’s brain. During the surgery, a pulse generator, which transmits electric impulses into the brain, is inserted below the collarbone under the skin. The operations related to this treatment are easy on the patient, and the procedure is minimally invasive on the brain. The risks associated with the operation are small and predictable.

Who could benefit from deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation does not cure the patient’s disease but alleviates brain-based symptoms, which may significantly improve the patient’s quality of life and functional capacity. Some patients may even be able to return to work after a break of many years.

Deep brain stimulation may be useful for:

  • Patients with Parkinson’s disease who experience uncontrollable wearing-off despite medication
  • Patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy who experience troublesome seizures despite medication and are not candidates for surgery
  • Deep brain stimulation may also be helpful in other movement disorders characterised by tremor or torsion (twisting movement).

Examinations and treatment at Tays

The deep brain stimulation procedure must always be performed in a university hospital, because invasive brain procedures always require careful examination and evaluation of the patient. If the physician thinks the patient would benefit from DBS, he/she will prepare a referral for the DBS team at Tays.

Based on the referral, we will invite the patient to come to an evaluation performed at the outpatient clinic of Neurosurgery or Neurology. If the DBS team thinks that the patient is a suitable candidate for DBS therapy, appointments for preliminary examinations will be scheduled.

An appointment for a psychiatric evaluation and neuropsychological tests will also be scheduled to check the patient’s eligibility. A magnetic resonance imaging examination will be performed before DBS to identify the target ganglion in the brain. The proper place for the electrode and the route for taking it there will be planned with the help of a computer system.

DBS surgery involves drilling a tiny hole into the skull. The electrode will be safely guided into the right place through this hole. The electrode will not damage the brain. The pulse generator will be installed under the skin below the collarbone.

Once the procedure is over, the patient will be transferred to the Neurosurgery Ward, where the stimulation will be initiated. The patient will be monitored at the inpatient ward for a few days depending on the situation. A computerised tomography scan of the head and brain will be performed, if needed.

The follow-up examination will take place at the Neurosurgery Outpatient Clinic. After this, to achieve an optimal treatment response, the level of deep brain stimulation will be adjusted at the outpatient clinics responsible for the patient’s further treatment, i.e. the Neurology Outpatient Clinic for patients with epilepsy or movement disorders.

If the patient wants to have the device removed for some reason, taking it out is a simple procedure.

Special expertise at Tays

The competence of Tampere University Hospital in the neuroscientific fields is among the best in the world and unique in Finland. We currently provide DBS treatment to more epileptic patients than any other hospital in the world. This has been made possible by the development of imaging as a part of our neurosurgical operations, for example.

Thanks to new information about the effectiveness of treatment, we have also launched collaboration between different medical specialties at Tays. The international deep brain stimulation training system utilises the input of the specialists of Tays to develop the device further.

Persons in charge

DBS coordinator, Senior Physician Jukka Peltola
DBS coordinator, Specialist Kai Lehtimäki