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Parkinson's Disease - Surgery

Brain surgery may be considered when drugs fail to control symptoms of Parkinson's disease or cause severe or disabling side effects.

Surgery isn't a cure. Drugs are usually still needed after surgery. But you probably won't need as much medicine as before, which means you may have fewer side effects.

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Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that progresses slowly. Some people will first notice a sense of weakness, difficulty walking, and stiff muscles. Others may notice a tremor of the head or hands. Parkinson's is a progressive disorder and the symptoms gradually worsen. The general symptoms of Parkinson's disease include: Slowness of voluntary movements, especially in the initiation of such movements as walking or rolling over in bed Decreased facial expression, monotonous sp...

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People who have very advanced Parkinson's or who have other serious problems (such as heart or lung disease, cancer, or kidney failure) usually aren't good candidates for surgery. Surgery usually isn't considered for people who have dementia or psychiatric disorders.

Surgery choices

  • Deep brain stimulation uses electrical impulses to stimulate a target area in the brain. It's the preferred surgery for treating most cases of advanced Parkinson's.
  • Pallidotomy involves the precise destruction of a very small area in a deep part of the brain that causes symptoms.
  • Thalamotomy involves the precise destruction of a very small area in another part of the brain that causes symptoms.

Neurotransplantation is an experimental procedure being studied for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. It involves implanting cells that produce dopamine into the brain. Information about how well neurotransplantation works is limited. And it is not a proven treatment or a realistic option for most people at this time.

See a neurologist

A neurologist with special training in Parkinson's disease is most often the best kind of doctor to make a decision about surgery. If you might benefit from surgery or deep brain stimulation, your neurologist can refer you to a brain surgeon with experience doing these operations.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 05, 2012
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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