The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease.
Further recommendations have been made as part of the clinical guideline on Parkinson's disease published in June 2006. Clinical and cost-effectiveness evidence was reviewed in the development of this guideline which has led to this more specific recommendation. The IP guidance on deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease remains current, and should be read in conjunction with the clinical guideline.
This procedure is used to treat Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a chronic disease of the brain characterised by gradually worsening tremor, muscle rigidity and difficulties with starting and stopping movements. The condition is usually treated with drugs. Surgery may be considered in people who have responded poorly to drugs, who have severe side-effects from medication, or who have severe fluctuations in response to drugs (on-off syndrome).
Parkinson's disease is common, affecting about 0.5% of people aged 65 to 74 and 1-2% of people aged 75 and over. Experts believe that 1 to 10% of people with Parkinson's disease might be suitable for brain surgery.
Surgery for Parkinson's disease is carried out on structures within the brain that are responsible for the modification of movements, such as the thalamus, the globus pallidus and the subthalamic nucleus. Each of these structures consists of two parts; one on the left hand side of the brain and one on the right. Surgery may be carried out on one or both sides.
Surgical treatment aims to correct the imbalance created by diminished function of the substantia nigra, the underlying abnormality in Parkinson's disease. Surgery alters, through either destruction or electrical stimulation, the function of brain nuclei - such as the thalamus, globus pallidus or subthalamus - that interact functionally with the substantia nigra. Deep brain stimulation is one form of surgery for Parkinson's disease.
This procedure involves inserting very fine needles into the brain through small holes made in the skull to determine the exact position of the nucleus, which may be different in each patient. This part of the procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthetic. Once the nucleus is identified, a permanent electrode is placed into it. Under general anaesthetic, this electrode is then connected to a pulse generator, which is implanted subcutaneously on the anterior chest wall.