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Deep brain stimulation for tremor caused by multiple sclerosis

Deep brain stimulation uses electrical impulses to stimulate an area in the brain. The stimulation affects tremor by altering the activity in the area of the brain that controls it. The procedure does not destroy any brain tissue, and stimulation can be stopped at any time by turning off the device that supplies the electrical impulses. Deep brain stimulation is also used to treat tremor caused by Parkinson's disease and other types of tremor.

Surgery is needed to implant the equipment that produces the electrical stimulation. The person is awake for part of the procedure, but the scalp is numbed. A small hole is drilled in the skull, and tiny wire electrodes are placed in the brain. A small battery-powered device (generator) similar to a pacemaker is implanted in the chest and connected to the electrodes in the brain by a wire. The procedure takes 3 to 4 hours, although it may take up to 8 hours in some cases.

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When turned on, the device sends 100 to 180 electrical pulses per minute to stimulate the specific area of the brain. The person can turn the device on and off by holding a magnet against the skin over the device. The device can be programmed so that it delivers the correct level of stimulation and so that it turns on and off according to a set schedule.

Deep brain stimulation for tremor caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) is still experimental, expensive, and not widely available.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised February 18, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 18, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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