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Questions and Answers – DBS Therapy

Essential Tremor

What is Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Essential Tremor?

DBS is a surgical treatment that has been proven to reduce the severity of the tremor associated with essential tremor in an upper extremity of the body.1

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How does the treatment work?

DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver electrical stimulation to an area in your brain to help treat essential tremor. Electrical stimulation is only delivered to one side of your body and is used to treat symptoms of tremor in an upper extremity. You may be a candidate for this therapy if you have been diagnosed with essential tremor not adequately controlled by medications and the tremor is disabling.

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What are the implanted components of the Medtronic DBS system?

The DBS System for essential tremor control consists of three implanted components:

  • One lead implanted in the brain
  • An extension threaded under the skin from the head, down the neck and into the upper chest
  • A neurostimulator implanted beneath the skin in the chest below the collarbone and connected to the extension
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Is it possible to adjust the device settings?

The device settings and stimulation levels can be adjusted noninvasively by a clinician using a programming device. With the Activa® RC, Activa PC, or Activa SC system, your clinician may allow you to adjust your settings with the DBS patient programmer.

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What benefits does DBS offer?

Although there is no cure for essential tremor, DBS has been shown to reduce symptoms associated with essential tremor.1

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What are the potential risks of DBS?

Risks of DBS can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Please refer to Important Safety Information for more information.

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What is the history of DBS?

Neurologists and neurosurgeons have used electrical stimulation since the 1960s as a way to locate and distinguish specific sites in the brain. Medtronic developed brain stimulation technology in the 1980s in conjunction with leading international physician researchers.

Medtronic DBS Therapy is currently approved to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia,* and obsessive-compulsive disorder.* Since 1997, more than 100,000 patients worldwide have received Medtronic DBS Therapy.2

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Does DBS cure essential tremor?

There is no cure for essential tremor at this time. DBS Therapy can treat some of the symptoms of essential tremor and improve function, but does not cure the underlying condition. If the treatment is discontinued, your symptoms will return.

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How effective is DBS for treating essential tremor?

69% of individuals with essential tremor experience total or significant suppression of disabling tremor – significantly reducing disability. DBS may improve the activities of daily living for people with essential tremor.1

*Humanitarian Device: The effectiveness of this device for the treatment of dystonia or obsessive-compulsive disorder has not been established.



Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2013.


Medtronic, data on file.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.