DBS for Dystonia

Skip Navigation



Advanced Search



Deep Brain Stimulation for Dystonia


Topics


Contact Us

For more information on DBS at Barrow please call (602) 406-3865 or complete our contact request form.
What is dystonia?  

What are the symptoms of dystonia?   

What causes dystonia?   

How is dystonia diagnosed?   

How can deep brain stimulation help treat dystonia?   

What are the risks of DBS treatment for dystonia?   

What are the potential side effects of DBS surgery for dystonia?   

How can the surgery or side effects be reversed?   

What can I expect my results to be like?   

Where can I find more information?




 

What is dystonia?

Dystonia is a medical condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions that can negatively impact your ability to function on a daily basis.

There are two types of dystonia:

  • Primary dystonia describes symptoms that result only from dystonia.

  • Secondary dystonia describes symptoms that result from injury to or infection of the brain.


Three categories of dystonia describe the way the disease affects your body:

  • Focal dystonia describes symptoms localized to one part of your body (for example, your left arm).

  • Segmentalized dystonia describes symptoms affecting two or more nearby areas of your body (for example, left arm and left hand).

  • Generalized dystonia describes symptoms that affect your entire body.

 

What are the symptoms of dystonia?

Involuntary muscle contractions are the primary symptom of dystonia. They can cause your body to assume twisting, repetitive, or painful postures.

Your dystonic symptoms can be aggravated if you experience stress and anxiety. They usually occur during a specific muscle movement (for example, slowly closing your hand into a fist may bring on symptoms, while quickly closing your fist may not).

 

What causes dystonia?

The cause of dystonia is not fully understood, although primary dystonia is known to be hereditary. It is thought that the disease may be linked to dysfunctional communication between nerve cells in the basal ganglia—a collection of nerve cells deep within your brain where muscle contraction commands originate.

 

How is dystonia diagnosed?

There is no blood test or other simple procedure that can diagnose dystonia. Your doctor will analyze your complete medical history and order tests to rule out other conditions.

 

How can deep brain stimulation help treat dystonia?

The deep brain stimulation (DBS) device delivers a small electrical stimulus to your basal ganglia—a collection of nerve cells deep within your brain where muscle contraction commands originate. Once the device is turned on, your symptoms may diminish. It usually takes several months for your doctor to program your stimulator to give you the most relief. In some cases, the symptoms in one part of your body may respond better than those in other parts.

Deep brain stimulation will not cure your dystonia. Your symptoms will get worse or return if your neurostimulator device is turned off.

Three pieces of surgically implanted hardware are used in DBS treatment:

  • The lead is the part of the device that is implanted in your brain. It is made up of four insulated wires that transition into four exposed electrodes at the tip of the stimulator.

  • The extension is a small wire that connects to the lead outside your brain and passes under your skin from your head and down your neck. It terminates in your upper chest at the site of the neurostimulator.

  • The neurostimulator is a pacemaker-like device that contains the power source for the lead and other electronics. Your surgeon will implant the neurostimulator in your upper chest, below your collarbone. The neurostimulator is attached to the extension, which carries power to the lead, where targeted amounts of electrical power are delivered to the affected area of your brain.

Your doctor will be able to adjust the neurostimulator wirelessly after surgery. You will also be able to turn the device on and off by holding a magnet near the device.

 

What are the risks of DBS treatment for dystonia?

Deep brain stimulation surgery carries similar risks to other invasive neurological procedures, including the following:
  • infection
  • bleeding inside the brain
  • seizures
  • coma or death
  • pain at the surgery site
  • headache
  • cognitive problems

 

What are the potential side effects of DBS surgery for dystonia?

Once your device is installed and turned on, you may experience the following side effects:
  • dizziness or lightheadedness (disequilibrium)
  • vision problems (double vision)
  • numbness (hypoesthesia)
  • temporary worsening of symptoms
  • facial and limb muscle weakness or partial paralysis (paresis)
  • speech problems like whispering (dysarthria) and trouble forming words (dysphasia)
  • déjà vu (this can be corrected by surgical repositioning of the lead)
  • tingling sensation (paresthesia)
  • persistent cough when the stimulator is turned on
  • abnormal, involuntary movements (chorea, dystonia, dyskinesia)
  • movement problems or reduced coordination
  • jolting or shocking sensation

 

How can the surgery or side effects be reversed?

If the severity of your side effects outweighs the benefits of the treatment, the device can be turned off or adjusted. Your neurostimulator can be removed if necessary.

 

What can I expect my results to be like?

Results will vary for each patient. Your symptoms may disappear entirely, you may notice various degrees of improvement, or you may see no improvement or worsening of symptoms. Your doctor will help you assess the risks and benefits of DBS. After surgery your doctors will work with you to adjust your stimulator to a setting that provides maximum benefit with minimal side effects.

 

Where can I find more information?

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Medtronic: DBS for Dystonia

Bottom of Navigation
 

Legal & Privacy Notices

 

Payment Assistance

Contact Us

Hospital Accreditation

© 2014 Dignity Health

Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000