GETTING DBS: WHAT TO EXPECT DBS THERAPY FOR EPILEPSY

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU CHOOSE DBS

You're probably wondering what to expect if you choose deep brain stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Epilespy. Along the way, you will have the support and expertise of a neurologist and neurosurgeon who have training and experience with DBS.

1. EVALUATION — DETERMINING IF YOU ARE A CANDIDATE

Your neurologist — typically an epileptologist — will evaluate you to see if DBS is a good option for you. The evaluation usually includes:

  • Medical history
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) to help determine the location of seizures in your brain and type of seizures you are having
  • MRI of the brain to identify structural abnormalities, including brain lesions, that could be causing your seizures, and to check whether there are any issues that would pose a risk during the surgery
  • Lab tests, such as a blood test to further assess conditions that may be triggering your seizures and to make sure your blood clots properly
  • Neuropsychological tests to evaluate the impact of your seizures on cognitive functioning

The doctor will share the results with you, and together you will decide whether to go forward with the therapy.

2. PLANNING — PREPARING FOR SURGERY

Your doctor will create images and maps of your brain to help guide the placement of leads during the surgery. You will have an MRI or CT scan to capture images of your brain.

3. SURGERY — PLACING THE SYSTEM

There are two parts to the DBS surgery: implanting very thin wires (leads) in the brain and placing the pacemaker-like device, called the neurostimulator, under the skin of the chest. The two parts may be done on the same day, or two different days. 

4. Programming — Stimulation Settings

A few weeks later, your doctor will turn on the neurostimulator and adjust the stimulation to best control your symptoms while minimizing side effects.

  • It will take a few programming sessions to find the stimulation levels that work best for you.
  • You'll have follow-up visits to check your results and adjust as needed. These appointments are key to getting the results you want over time.
Patient programmer for deep brain stimulation for epilepsy

5. CONTINUOUS THERAPY

Over time, your doctor will adjust the therapy settings in your device to meet your specific needs. Individualized therapy settings are programmed in the clinic using wireless communication between the implanted device and a clinician programmer. Every individual is different, so programming optimization may take place over several months to find the settings that best reduce your seizures and potential side effects.

Always follow your doctor's guidance about which activities are okay and which to avoid.