UHealth Parkinson’s Experts Continue to Advance Deep Brain Stimulation with Newer Surgical Options

Neurologists and neurosurgeons at UHealth – the University of Miami Health System are continuing to advance Deep Brain Stimulation for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Among the health system’s latest surgical advances, the team recently became the first in the eastern U.S. and the second in the nation to implant the Vercise Cartesia Directional Lead, which offers patients more precise control of range, shape, position and direction of electrical stimulation to treat the severe motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is used for Parkinson’s patients who no longer respond adequately to drug therapy. It allows for improved quality life and substantial reduction of daily medication intake. Much like a cardiac pacemaker, DBS therapy is delivered through leads or wires that are implanted into small targets in the brain. An implantable pulse generator is used to send current to the targeted areas of the brain providing profound improvement in symptoms.

“As technology advances, we are able to further fine tune and enhance DBS for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said UHealth neurologist Corneliu Luca, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology and director of UHealth’s Deep Brain Stimulation Program.

Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive, chronic neurodegenerative condition that affects up to 1.5 million Americans, with 40,000 to 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. While its cause remains a mystery, about 15 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 50, and the disease affects one of every 100 persons over the age of 60.

“Our mission is to offer Parkinson’s patients throughout Florida the latest treatment and most cutting-edge technology to improve their quality of life,” said UHealth neurosurgeon Jonathan R. Jagid, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, who has performed more than 1,000 DBS surgeries. “It’s always exciting to add new therapies to our comprehensive treatment program.”

The Vercise Cartesia Directional Lead, manufactured by Boston Scientific, has eight individually controlled electrodes on each lead to offer stimulation that can adapt to impedance changes within the brain. This level of precise stimulation to the targeted area in the brain is critical for avoiding unwanted side effects. It also has a rechargeable system with a battery life of at least 15 years. The non-rechargeable Vercise PC DBS System, which offers the same stimulation capability, has a projected battery longevity of at least three years with typical settings.

Dr. Luca and Dr. Jagid have played a pivotal role in clinical trials of the Vercise DBS system for FDA approval as part of UHealth’s Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, South Florida’s only National Parkinson’s Foundation-designated Center of Excellence.

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