Medtronic Activa PC Device

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) with Activa PC device by Medtronic

What is deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is

  • A device used to help control seizures. Surgery is done to place the device, then it is programmed in the outpatient clinic by an epilepsy specialist.
  • A type of neuromodulation therapy. This means, DBS therapy is designed to change (modulate) how brain cells work by giving electrical stimulation to brain areas involved in seizures.
  • Used together with seizure medications.

DBS therapy for the treatment of seizures was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018. It has been approved in Europe, Australia, and Canada for several years.

DBS therapy has also been used to treat other neurologic conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Who can use DBS?

  • DBS may be used to treat people 18 years and older with uncontrolled focal seizures when medicines don’t work. Uncontrolled seizures, also called drug resistant seizures, are seizures that do not respond to appropriate trials of seizure medicines.
  • DBS is an option for people whose seizures are not able to be treated with other types of epilepsy surgery.

How does DBS work?

The DBS device is placed by a neurosurgeon during an operation. Thin wires (called electrodes) carry electrical impulses from the neurostimulator device directly to the brain to stop brain signals that causes seizures.

  • The neurostimulator device is battery operated. It can be programmed like a tiny computer (similar to a cardiac pacemaker).
  • The device is programmed by your doctor or nurse to deliver tiny electrical impulses.
  • These electrical impulses help to stop seizures from beginning or spreading to different areas of the brain.

How helpful is DBS?

DBS does not cure epilepsy but can decrease the number and severity of seizures in many people. In general, results of clinical studies show

  • About half of people who have DBS have less seizures with this treatment.
  • For others, DBS therapy may reduce their seizures. It may not help in a small number of people.
  • The positive effect of DBS therapy may not be seen right away. It can take up to two years for DBS therapy to show its full benefit.
  • DBS is always used together with seizure medication. Like other devices used to treat epilepsy, if seizure control improves with DBS, seizure medicines may be lowered to lessen side effects.

How do I know if I am a candidate for deep brain stimulation?

Everyone who has seizures that are not well controlled after trying two or more antiseizure medications should talk with their epilepsy doctor about whether treatment with a device or surgery could help them. An epilepsy specialist or an evaluation at an epilepsy center can help you explore all treatment options. 

Presurgical Testing

Resources

Find an epilepsy specialist to help you explore this, and other, treatment options.

The DBS® System is manufactured by Medtronic. Additional information for patients and physicians is available on their website.

Authored By: 
Elaine Kiriakopoulos MD, MSc
Authored Date: 
09/2018
Reviewed By: 
Mohamad Koubeissi MD and Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
on: 
Saturday, September 15, 2018