Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure involving the placement of a medical device called ‘Neurostimulator’. This device is also referred to as a brain pacemaker.
In this procedure, electrodes are implanted into certain brain areas. These electrodes, or leads, generate electrical impulses that control abnormal brain activity. The electrical impulses can also adjust for the chemical imbalances within the brain that cause various conditions.
A DBS system has three components- The electrode, or lead, which is a thin, insulated wire, implanted into a specific brain area (brain nucleus). Extension wires are used to connect the electrodes to the third component of the system, which passes under the skin of the head, neck and shoulders. The internal pulse generator is the third component. It is usually implanted under the skin in the upper chest.
Conditions that are traditionally treated using DBS include dystonia, epilepsy, essential tumour, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson's disease. In treating depression, however, previous clinical trials with DBS have shown limited success because most devices are only able to deliver constant electrical stimulation to one area of the brain.