Surgery and Parkinson’s Disease

Deciding on surgery for someone who has Parkinson’s disease is not to be taken lightly. It should only ever be contemplated for someone who has tried every other alternative possible and is suffering from a severe and debilitating version of Parkinson’s disease. There are serious issues surrounding brain surgery, especially as this type of surgery can bring its own problems.

Brain surgery is not a cure for Parkinson’s disease; it can only ever be used to assist in controlling the symptoms that Parkinson’s disease produces. Many doctors are not convinced about the efficacy of surgery for those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, instead favouring treatment of the disease with more conventional medical methods. Research on future advances in the cure of Parkinsons disease, however, should be pursued in the surgical field.

If brain surgery is considered to be a possible mode of treating Parkinson’s disease, then one procedure a patient may think about is an operation called a Pallidotomy. This consists of a tiny hole being drilled into the skull and an electric probe used to destroy a tiny amount of a brain matter called global pallidus.

Many doctors believe this material is overactive in people with Parkinson’s disease. If a person with Parkinson’s has extreme dyskinesia (which can be caused by overuse of the medication given to control the Parkinson’s), this procedure can be effective in reducing these conditions.

A Thalamotomy is a surgical procedure which can be performed on a person who has serious tremors in their limbs. With this procedure, the thalamus is operated on with some cells being destroyed. It is debatable as to how helpful this procedure actually is.

Deep brain stimulus is another procedure that can be considered for those suffering from an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease. This involves inserting an electrode into the brain and employing electrical impulses to block signals causing Parkinsonian symptoms. It is also used to stimulate the brain. This is a recent innovation, so long term results are not yet known, but it does look promising. Deep brain stimulus has also been tried on the thalamus and it has been reported that it can have considerable effects on the tremors characteristic of the disease.

Other surgical treatments have been tried which many people consider to not be ethical, and these include the transplantation of foetal tissue. There is a large debate as to whether foetal tissue should be used at all, with many people concerned with the moral implications of using the tissue of unborn children to prolong and enhance the quality of life of another person. This procedure is reported to improve the lives of a small quantity of people, however the techniques involved are not perfected and there are serious side effects to be considered.