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Deep Brain Stimulation

Why choose Ochsner Health for deep brain stimulation?

Tremors, stiffness, slow movements and other symptoms of neurodegenerative movement disorders can upend everyday life. Symptoms can complicate basic tasks, such as eating, dressing and walking, and make pursuing your passions difficult. A variety of treatments can help you control symptoms.

One therapy that is effective for some patients is deep brain stimulation. Ochsner is home to one of the longest-running deep brain stimulation programs in Louisiana and Mississippi, making the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute at Ochsner Medical Center - New Orleans a leading destination for this treatment.

Deep brain stimulation is a type of therapy where an implanted device similar to a heart pacemaker sends electrical signals through thin insulated wires to specific areas of the brain. These electric pulses to the brain modulate the nerve signals that may cause symptoms associated with movement disorders. At Ochsner, our extensive experience and multidisciplinary approach to care allow us to precisely tailor this treatment to each patient’s needs.

Multidisciplinary care is the hallmark of Ochsner’s deep brain stimulation program. Collaboration among fellowship-trained neurologists, clinician programmers, neurosurgeons, and neuropsychologists help review patient candidacy for deep brain stimulation. They strive to confirm diagnoses, educate patients on their options, and identify patients who are both fit for surgery and have the best chance for an optimal outcome. Each type of specialist plays a key role:

  • Neurologists evaluate patients’ candidacy for deep brain stimulation. They also provide medication management services and ongoing care including device programming following surgery.

  • Neuropsychologists perform an in-depth memory exam to help the team weigh the risks and benefits of treatment. In addition, neuropsychologists assist with identifying targets for treatment in the brain.

  • Neurosurgeons educate patients about and perform the surgical procedures.

Patients meet with each specialist as part of the evaluation process. The specialists then meet in a conference to discuss each case and plan the treatment.

In addition to our multidisciplinary approach, other factors that distinguish deep brain stimulation at Ochsner include:

  • Commitment to excellence. Deep brain stimulation is an option to treat certain patients with Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation recognized the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute as a Comprehensive Care Center, symbolizing top-level care.

  • Convenient care. From determining candidacy to performing the surgical procedures to programming the amount of electrical signaling after surgery, deep brain stimulation is a multistep process. To maximize convenience for patients, we offer virtual visits to allow patients to see members of our team from the comfort of home when possible.

Precise lead placement. Leading-edge guidance software and neurophysiologists, neurosurgeons, and neurologists who monitor the procedure in real time help ensure the team places the leads — the insulated wires that conduct electrical signals from the implanted device to the brain — precisely where they intended.

Our team uses deep brain stimulation to treat the following movement disorders:

  • Dystonia. With this condition, muscles contract spontaneously, causing potentially painful stiff and slow movements. This can cause involuntary shaking, or tremors, vocal abnormalities, and gait problems.

  • Essential tremor. Often an inherited disorder and more common than Parkinson’s, this condition typically causes tremors in the hands and arms. Many times, DBS therapy can help steady the hand tremor and allow people to manage utensils, typing, hand crafts and basic manual tasks once more.

  • Parkinson’s disease. Trembling in the arms and legs is perhaps the most recognizable and treatable symptom of Parkinson’s disease with DBS. Other symptoms include balance problems, slow movements, and stiffness in the arms and legs. Symptoms typically begin on one side of the body. Over time, however, they appear on both sides. Patients who require frequent medication doses often seek out DBS with a goal to reduce the number of daily doses required to feel their best.

Our team determines candidacy for deep brain stimulation based on a variety of factors. Our first step is confirming the diagnosis. Others include reviewing whether other treatments, such as medications, aren’t providing adequate symptom relief.

If our team determines that you’re a good candidate for deep brain stimulation, they’ll schedule your surgery.

Deep brain stimulation typically involves two procedures. During the first procedure, you’ll receive local anesthesia, allowing you to stay awake during part of the surgery without feeling any discomfort. The surgeon will make a small hole in the skull to access the right or left side of the brain. The team places one or two electrodes into specific areas of the brain to record activity. This helps confirm whether the electrodes are in the correct place. As part of this confirmation process, the team stimulates the area to ensure the electrode produces the desired effects, such as tremor or stiffness reduction.

You’ll return to the medical center a few days later for surgery to implant a battery, or pacemaker-like device. This procedure takes place under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision under your collarbone and places the device beneath the skin. Next, the surgeon connects the electrode in the brain to the battery using an extension wire and then closes the incision.

Several weeks later, you’ll meet with the neurologist in the clinic to activate the neurostimulator and program it to deliver electrical pulses to the brain. You can turn the device on and off using a patient programmer. Programming is noninvasive. Going forward, you and the neurologist can adjust the programming according to your needs.


No. This treatment can significantly improve symptoms, but it can’t prevent worsening of neurodegeneration, or disease progression.

Every case is different, but for specific symptoms, deep brain stimulation can produce significant improvement. We have had patients get back to work, their favorite hobbies, taking care of loved ones and other tasks otherwise limited by their disease.

Unlike other therapies, deep brain stimulation can evolve along with a disease. As the disease changes, the programming neurologist can change the therapy to meet your needs.

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Map of Ochsner-affiliated facilities that provide services related to Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation Locations

Ochsner Lafayette General Neuroscience Center
136 Hospital Drive
Lafayette, LA 70503
  • Monday–Thursday: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 7 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Ochsner LSU Health - St. Mary Medical Center
915 Margaret Place
Shreveport, LA 71101
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans
1514 Jefferson Highway
New Orleans, LA 70121
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Health Center - Covington
1000 Ochsner Blvd.
Covington, LA 70433
  • Mon–Fri: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.