A multidisciplinary care team at Mediclinic Constantiaberg is pioneering advanced Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) techniques, using an approach to awake brain surgery that achieves outstanding patient outcomes.

What sets apart the DBS programme at Mediclinic Constantiaberg is its multidisciplinary approach, involving neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and anaesthetists. Each specialist plays a crucial role in ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients undergoing awake brain surgery.

The team outlook is essential to its success, allowing the doctors to offer a comprehensive service. This ensures careful evaluation of each patient, reducing the risks and improving surgical outcomes. A high level of coordination is vital in neurological surgery, in which precision is critical to successful patient outcomes.

How does awake brain surgery work?

The DBS technique involves placing electrodes in specific areas of the brain to help alleviate movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. “The procedure starts with shaving the patient’s head and making small incisions in the scalp,” explains Dr Corlize Steyn, a neurosurgeon at Mediclinic Constantiaberg. “We drill a tiny hole in the skull to insert micro-electrodes, which guide us to the target area in the brain. This is done with the patient either asleep or awake, depending on the approach.”

A combination of MRI and CT scans provides neuro-navigation, allowing for precise placement of the electrodes. Accuracy is crucial in this type of brain surgery. “Literally, a millimetre can make a significant difference in the outcome,” Dr Steyn emphasises. The micro-electrodes are monitored closely, and adjustments made based on real-time feedback to maximise benefits and minimise side-effects.

Benefits of neurological surgery for Parkinson’s disease

The team at Mediclinic Constantiaberg is the first in the country to use directional leads in DBS that allow them to steer the electrical stimulation in specific directions for more accurate symptom control. “This leads to better outcomes with fewer side-effects,” says Dr Steyn.

DBS is a technically complex form of neurological surgery, requiring meticulous planning and execution, and the results can be life changing. “The surgery usually takes about six hours, as it involves numerous tasks,” Dr Steyn explains. “But the benefits are noticeable immediately after the surgery is complete. The goal is to reduce excess movement and improve the patient's quality of life by modulating the neural pathways responsible for symptoms like tremors and rigidity.”

“One of the main benefits of DBS is that it significantly reduces the need for medication for Parkinson's patients, making their treatment more stable and manageable,” adds Dr Louis Vlok, a neurologist at Mediclinic Constantiaberg.

If you or a loved one have a movement disorder and are interested in DBS, the care team at Mediclinic Constantiaberg encourages you to reach out early for an assessment. Dr Vlok advises that it’s best to schedule a consultation earlier rather than later. “If we can assess a patient’s eligibility and monitor their progress, we will know if they’re suitable candidates, and can improve their quality of life as soon as possible.”

“We're here to guide you through the journey,” assures Dr Vlok, “from preoperative evaluations to postoperative care, and ongoing support.”