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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Researchers Take a Longer Look at Surgical Procedure for Parkinson's

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Worth says that this report encourages physicians to continue to recommend this procedure, especially to certain types of patients.

Pallidotomy is not a new procedure, and in fact, was one of several procedures that were used as early as the 1950s to treat Parkinson's. When medications became available, many of these surgeries were abandoned in favor of the pharmaceutical treatment, but for some patients, surgery remains the best option for symptom relief.

However, Gerald Silverberg, MD, a professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., points out that newer procedures are rapidly taking the place of pallidotomy. "This study is mainly of historical interest, as therapy for advanced Parkinson's has moved away from pallidotomy." He explains that a newer technique is coming into favor, called deep brain stimulation, where a part of the brain is stimulated by a kind of pacemaker -- like people have for their hearts -- that is implanted in the brain.

"This appears to be a safer and more effective treatment for advanced Parkinson's, and most movement disorder clinics are using this procedure now, rather than pallidotomy," says Silverberg, who was not involved in the study.

The authors concur that the newer techniques may be safer for some patients, or even can be combined with pallidotomy in specific cases. But for selected patients with Parkinson's that does not respond to medication, the authors maintain "pallidotomy is nevertheless a useful treatment."

To read more, visit WebMD's Diseases and Conditions Parkinson's page.

Vital Information:

  • Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder characterized by tremors, problems with balance when walking and standing, rigidity, and a reduced amount of movement.
  • Pallidotomy is a surgical procedure that can dramatically improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease at first, but some of these effects wear off over time.
  • A newer treatment for the disease is deep brain stimulation, which may be safer and more effective than pallidotomy.
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