In a nearly six-hour procedure during which the patient was conscious and speaking, neurosurgeon P. Charles Garell, M.D., placed an electrode into a small region of the brain that processes and relays information before they go to the muscles.
In future procedures, Garell
will place a controller device under the skin near the collarbone.
..."Surgical treatments for Parkinson's have a long history," says Garell, who is also assistant professor of neurosurgery at UW Medical School.
"But deep brain stimulation has the powerful advantage of being reversible.Brain cells are not destroyed in the procedure; they are stimulated at various rates depending on the patient's symptoms."Garell
, who studied the deep brain stimulation procedure in France with one of the world's leaders in functional neurosurgery, has treated three UW patients through this approach.The first patient, who was treated for essential tremor, had outstanding results; her
tremors completely disappeared.The second patient, who suffered from dystonia (a movement disorder involving involuntary muscle contractions), had surgery only recently and his
outcome is not yet known as results typically require several months to show.Garell
is hopeful that the Parkinson's patient will enjoy a significant reduction in her
tremors and require less medication.Results of DBS studies in Parkinson's patients around the world have shown very promising results in a high percentage of patients.
"This approach is still relatively new, and the profession is carefully assessing who the best candidates for the surgery are," he
notes."But we are all encouraged that many patients will now have an option that is reversible and which they can largely control on their own."Garell joined the UW Medical School faculty in June.
Following medical school, he
was awarded a fellowship from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons
for a year of study in neurosurgery in Grenoble, France.