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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.

Recommended Related to Parkinson's

Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Usually, the outward symptoms of Parkinson's are distinctive enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis in the office.  There is no blood test or brain scan that confirms the diagnosis. But if you don't respond to the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, it’s possible you may have another type of movement disorder that causes the same type of symptoms.  Doing additional tests can help your doctor determine if some other problem is causing your parkinsonian symptoms.

Read the Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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