Campus News Banner


UK Neurosciences Institute
Uses Activa Neurostimulator Device
for Treatment of Essential Tremors, Parkinson's

By Tammy J. Gay

 

Small UK Logo

DBS, developed by Medtronic Inc., includes an insulated wire lead that is surgically implanted deep within the thalamus, the brain's communication center. The lead is connected by an extension wire passed under the skin to an implanted pulse generator, similar to an advanced cardiac pacemaker, which is implanted near the collarbone.

Small UK Logo

Sept. 20, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- People who suffer from Parkinson's disease and essential tremor have difficulty with everyday tasks such as eating, drinking and writing.

A procedure done by University of Kentucky Hospital Chief of Staff Byron Young, M.D., can help control the tremors. Young, the Johnston-Wright Endowed Chair of Surgery, professor in the Department of Surgery, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, and associate dean for Clinical Affairs, implanted the first Activa Tremor Control Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) device for tremor disorder at UK in December 1997. Since then, he has completed 50 procedures.

DBS, developed by Medtronic Inc., includes an insulated wire lead that is surgically implanted deep within the thalamus, the brain's communication center. The lead is connected by an extension wire passed under the skin to an implanted pulse generator, similar to an advanced cardiac pacemaker, which is implanted near the collarbone.

During surgery the patient remains awake and responds to questions and commands from Young and the surgical team as they attempt to find the correct placement of the lead's electrodes in the brain's thalamus. The improvement in tremor control can be immediate when the correct location is found.

In March of 1999, Diane Allen, 54, of Lawrenceburg, had her first deep brain stimulation procedure done for treatment of Parkinson's disease and a second procedure was completed on Aug. 5 this year.
Drug therapy was not working and Allen was having trouble typing, which is a requirement of her job.

"I wanted to continue to work and have a better life," Allen said. Since the procedure, Allen's tremors are significantly less, and she has an easier time typing. She says she also is more comfortable about going out with friends, and it has allowed her to enjoy playing with her grandchildren and dogs.

Patients control the stimulation by passing a hand-held magnet over the implanted pulse generator to turn it on or off, or to increase or decrease stimulation depending on their tremor suppression needs. To achieve maximum tremor suppression, physicians program the generator to deliver the precise stimulation needed for each individual patient.

The device is designed for those for whom drugs are ineffective in controlling their disabling tremor. In January 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved Activa for implantation in both brain areas.

Essential tremor is the most common neurological movement disorder in the country. The condition afflicts at least one million Americans, usually age 45 or older.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive and degenerative neurological disease that affects approximately 500,000 people in the United States.

UK Neurosciences Institute will be hosting a seminar at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 in the William T. Young Library Auditorium. This seminar is designed to provide information to patients, family members, and providers interested in the use of this treatment for either Parkinson's disease or essential tremors.

For additional information, contact UK Health Connections at (859) 257-1000 or (800) 333-8874.


Back to Campus News Homepage