World-leading in Deep Brain Stimulation

At the University Hospital of Umeå, world-leading research and treatment is conducted with Deep Brain Stimulation, DBS. By stimulating the brain with an implanted electrode, disruptive signals are blocked and diseases such as Parkinson's, severe tremors and even depression, can be alleviated.

A stereotactic frame provides the neurosurgeon with measuring points by which to navigate in the brain. Foto: Edel photo

På svenska/In Swedish

The method is based on stereotactic functional neurosurgery, where a so-called stereotactic frame fixates the patient's head during surgery and provides the neurosurgeon with measuring points by which to navigate in the brain. Stereotactic functional neurosurgery is one of the University Hospital of Umeå’s profile areas.

Blocks the disruptions

– Simply put, it's all about finding the exact area that causes the brain's pathological activities. Once we have, we can successfully block the disruptions with a nerve stimulator, a so-called neuropacemaker, explains Patric Blomstedt, Professor of stereotactic functional neurosurgery and one of the leading specialists in the world who performs Deep Brain Stimulation.

Started in Umeå

The DBS unit at the University Hospital of Umeå and Neuro, Head and Neck Centre in Umeå perform about 40 surgeries per year, and almost 600 patients with various diseases and symptoms have received treatment over the years. The unit's staff has published more than 250 scientific papers and six doctoral dissertations on the topic of stereotactic functional neurosurgery.

– The modern development of stereotactic functional neurosurgery started in Umeå in the early 1990s. The unit is now one of the world's most famous centres when it comes to DBS and we have great international collaborations today, says Patric Blomstedt.

Tailor-made treatment

The method of Deep Brain Stimulation is nowadays an established treatment for everything from Parkinson's disease, hereditary tremors, that is, tremors in the hands and other movement disorders, as well as certain forms of pain. The unit also conducts studies on DBS treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, Horton's headache and dementia.

– We are a driving force in the search for methods to find the best target areas for different conditions. Then we make a thorough diagnosis and tailor the treatment according to the patient's symptoms and condition, says Patric Blomstedt.

Patients with neurological symptoms can apply to the DBS unit via referral, where they are met by specially trained staff who assess whether treatment with DBS may be an option. Some conditions and symptoms are better suited for medical treatment, while in other cases it may be precisely DBS that is the best method of treatment.

An atlas of the brain

The exact location of the electrode is mapped by examining the brain with CT and MRI scans. The information is then assembled into a map of a small part of the brain.

The DBS unit's task is to anatomically identify the target and draw an atlas of how electricity affects different structures in the brain. This contributes to developing precision so that the surgeon knows exactly where the stimulus is most effective and produces the least side effects.

– One of the advantages of DBS is that it is a reversible method. If there are side effects, you can either stop the stimulation or remove the electrode if necessary, explains Patric Blomstedt.

Largest in Sweden

The unit at the University Hospital of Umeå is the largest DBS operation in Sweden and one of the leading in the world. The clinical results are excellent and the research is extensive. The broad experience of various diagnoses and target areas has given the unit international prestige.

Refined technology

The DBS unit is also participating in an EU project to further refine the technology, which among other things entails developing a new generation of electrodes that accurately form an electric field.

 

Contact: Patrik Blomstedt, Professor of Stereotactic Functional Neurosurgery and Chief Physician at the DBS unit, University Hospital of Umeå. +46 70 230 82 06

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