Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system and currently afflicts over one million people in North America, and more than five million people worldwide, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. While medication can curb symptoms, one of the most heartbreaking aspects of Parkinson's disease is that medications often lose efficacy as the disease progresses.
Severe symptoms of Parkinson's include: loss of balance, involuntary movement, motor fluctuations, difficulty walking and/or speaking, frozen facial expressions and depression. Understandably, patients with severe symptoms who do not find, or who no longer feel, relief from taking medications can suffer from a significantly diminished quality-of-life, severe debilitation and loss of independence.
For some patients whose medications have proved inadequate in controlling symptoms, doctors may offer deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery as an option to regain certain lost functionality. Until now, this meant a complicated and lengthy procedure during which an opening is made in the skull and an electrode is placed at a specific location within the brain that controls movement—all while the patient is awake to provide feedback to the surgeon. Remaining awake during brain surgery is an added source of anxiety, and frequently a deterrent, for many potential candidates of DBS.
A new system called ClearPoint, developed by MRI Interventions, Inc., a medical device company in Irvine, California, offers a solution to patients who would not undergo DBS surgery due to the prospect of being awake. The innovative technology provides neurosurgeons with real-time MRI images of the brain during these procedures. The surgeon's high resolution inside view of the brain during surgery enables patients to rest under general anesthesia throughout the operation—appropriately called "Asleep DBS." The FDA-cleared system is installed at more than 25 hospitals throughout the U.S., including five of the top ten hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery according to U.S. News and World Report.
"Real-time visualization is the differentiating factor," said Kimble L. Jenkins, President and CEO of MRI Interventions, "designed to help surgeons achieve a high degree of accuracy while allowing patients to sleep under general anesthesia through these procedures."
Jenkins continued, "We believe ClearPoint is making neurosurgery easier on patients, opening the door for more people to receive potentially life-changing therapies."
For more information, visit www.asleepdbs.com.