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Surgery for Parkinson Disease

Doctor talking with a senior patient.
If surgery is an option for you, your doctor and other members of your healthcare team can explain its risks and benefits.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects control over movement. Treatment often involves taking medicines. If symptoms are severe and medicines don’t help, surgery may be advised. Surgery is not a cure. But it may help relieve some of the symptoms of the disease. It works mainly on tremors and rigidity.

Types of surgery for Parkinson disease

There are different kinds of surgery:

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS). An electrode is implanted in the brain. The electrode is connected to a controller that is put under the skin of the chest. When needed, the controller sends pulses through the electrode. The pulses interrupt brain signals that cause certain symptoms.

  • Lesioning. This includes pallidotomy and thalamotomy. The goal is to block the pathways of messages that can lead to symptoms. During the surgery, a very small lesion is made in one area of the brain. Small brain lesions can be done with small tools or focused high energy radiation (radiosurgery). Pallidotomy may help lessen tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement. Lesioning is not often used.

  • MRI-guided focused ultrasound.

Future options

Many procedures for Parkinson disease have been researched. Some show promise, but more research is needed. Your doctor can answer questions on other procedures you may have heard about. One experimental new surgery is restorative surgery. During this surgery, new brain tissue, gene therapy, or stem cells are transplanted into the brain. There, the new tissue takes over the function of damaged cells.

Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2018
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