Parkinson’s Treatment Now Outpatient Procedure

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Patients can now get deep brain stimulation, a treatment used for Parkinson’s Disease among others, as an outpatient procedure and be home for dinner.

Brain surgeon Dr. Christopher Duma, is now offering the procedure to his patients at DISC Sports & Spine Center in Newport Beach.

“The ability to bring Deep Brain Stimulation to patients in an innovative outpatient setting like DISC is not only the natural progression of the technology, but also a safer, less daunting and more efficient option,” Duma said.

An illustration demonstrating a DBS system implanted on the left side to control tremors on the right side of the body. — Courtesy Christopher Duma
An illustration demonstrating a DBS system implanted on the left side to control tremors on the right side of the body. — Courtesy Christopher Duma

The treatment can control tremors in a variety of movement disorder patients, on top of Parkinson’s, DBS can also be used to treat Dystonia, Tourette syndrome, and most recently, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The DISC center uses a three-tesla MRI, Duma explained, which allows doctors to be far more accurate in locating the targeted area for stimulation, which makes surgery quicker, more direct and less invasive, Duma said.

The three-Tesla MRI is “so highly specific for the area that we’re targeting that any collateral effect is almost zero,” he added.

Surgeons can pinpoint the area of the brain that cause the tremors or other symptoms with an MRI and then use electrical impulses to “shut down” that area.

“Wires are implanted in the brain and are connected to a device under the skin near the collar bone that regulates a continuous current,” according to a statement from the DISC Center.

There are risks, as there are in any type of surgery, Duma said, and side effects after the procedure are minimal to none, he added, especially since they can now very accurately direct the electrical impulses. The stimulation can be turned off or adjusted if any issues arise.

Duma, one of the pioneers of the technology, has been using deep brain stimulation for patients in Orange County for about 16 years and has treated over 600 patients.

“Before, it was an overnight stay” at a hospital, Duma said, but now the implantations are minimally invasive and can be done in a small facility or surgery center with the patient headed home later that day.

“Patients can literally walk in, have the surgery and be home in time for dinner, with their quality of life improved exponentially,” according to a DISC statement.

There’s a worry about making brain surgery as an outpatient setting, but the technology has made that possible, said Duma, who has done a few outpatient DBS procedures so far.

Deep brain simulation can greatly improve quality of life for Parkinson’s Disease patients, Duma said, and making it an outpatient procedure lessens the stress and disruption in patient’s lives. Less stress can also help speed up recovery, he added.

“I am already gratified every time I get the opportunity to stop symptoms in a Parkinson’s patient,” Duma said. “To do so with even less disruption of life, and such a high quality of care, is very exciting.”

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