This past January, Ascension Seton teamed up with Medtronic and the people of UT Biomedical Engineering to give the world’s first deep brain implant using new 3D imaging technology to a woman suffering from Parkinson’s disease. After being forced to give up her work as a massage therapist due to the severity of her tremors characteristic of the disease, Suzanne Wyper reached out to Dr. Georgetta Varga and Dr. Robert Buchanan, chief neurosurgeon at Ascension Seton Brain & Spine Institute.
Deep Brain Stimulation
The science behind the implant, which has been shown to be a promising new tool to alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms, centers on the idea of carefully placing an electrode on the part of the brain that’s affected by the disease. Suzanne jokes, “I told my friends I was going to get turned on for New Year’s.” But all kidding aside, Suzanne’s tremors are now gone and she looks forward to being able to return to work.
New Technology Made Suzanne’s Implant Possible
Using the new O-arm Medtronic 3-D fluoroscope imaging device, surgeons were able to place Suzanne’s implant with a careful precision never before possible. Because the electrode could be applied so exactly, the effectiveness of the implant was significantly increased. Dr. Buchanan also explains that this precision reduces side effects caused by the electrodes reaching other unnecessary parts of the brain.
Large Implications for All Parkinson’s Sufferers
The success of Suzanne’s implant points to promising possibilities for the future of Parkinson’s treatment. While the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, this new technology could mean that a vast number of people with the disease could see significant relief from its progression. Additionally, deep brain implants are covered by Medicare and most insurance providers, so if you think you may be a candidate for this procedure, consult your neurologist.