Surgery for Parkinson's Disease

Medically Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on July 15, 2017

Generally, surgery is only a treatment for Parkinson's disease when medicine doesn't make your symptoms better.

The three surgical ways to treat Parkinson's are:

  • Pallidotomy
  • Thalamotomy
  • Deep brain stimulation


Doctors believe Parkinson's happens when a part of the brain called the globus pallidus works too hard. This acts like a brake and makes moving your body tougher. Pallidotomy surgery destroys the globus pallidus to make you feel better. This treatment can make you less rigid and ease tremors, improve balance, and make it easier for you to move.

Pallidotomy can also make medicine work better for people with advanced Parkinson's.


Research says tremors are due to trouble with your thalamus, a part of your brain that, among other things, is in charge of our balance and makes sure we can feel our arms and legs. Thalamotomy destroys part of the thalamus to block the things that cause your tremors from reaching the muscles.

It's used only to control tremors, so it's not usually recommended as a treatment for Parkinson's disease.

Doctors still do thalamotomy and pallidotomy surgeries, but they happen less frequently because of the risk of serious side effects.


Deep Brain Stimulation

A doctor implants electrodes in certain areas of your brain. The impulses they cause restrict other impulses that can cause the disease.

A device that acts like a pacemaker goes under the skin in your chest to control the impulses. A wire runs beneath your skin from the device to the "lead" in your brain.

You'll only get this if medicine isn't working. Talk with your doctor to see if this is right for you.

WebMD Medical Reference



National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Parkinson's Disease: Hope Through Research."

We Move: "Essential Tremor: Surgical Approaches to Treatment."

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: "Movement Disorders."

Mayo Clinic: "Deep Brain Stimulation."

National Parkinson Foundation: "Deep Brain Stimulation."

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