Clinical Topics

Deep brain simulation extends Parkinson’s survival

by U.S. Medicine

July 15, 2018

HINES, IL — Deep brain stimulation (DBS) not only improves motor function in patients with Parkinson’s disease, as demonstrated in earlier studies, it also appears to extend life, according to new VA research.

A study conducted by a team from the Edward Hines Jr. VAMC documented a modest survival advantage in Parkinson’s patients who received stimulation through an implanted device, compared to similar patients treated only with medication. Their findings were published in the journal Movement Disorders.1

“Overall, DBS surgery has been viewed quite positively by both patients and providers,” explained lead author Frances Weaver, PhD, MA. “There is an immediate effect on patients who have DBS on their motor function —the dyskinesia is either gone or greatly reduced. The patient can move around and do things they hadn’t been able to.”

The researchers noted, however, that few studies have looked at whether life expectancy is improved because of the treatment. To remedy that, they analyzed data for 611 veterans, average age 69, with Parkinson’s disease and an implanted deep brain stimulation device implanted. Administrative files from VA and Medicare from 2007 to 2013 were used for the research.

Each DBS patient was paired with a clinically and demographically similar non-DBS patient —for example, in terms of age and symptom severity —and tracked survival from the date when surgery either took place for the DBS group or might have theoretically taken place for the medication-only group. Results indicated that patients treated with deep brain stimulation survived an average of 6.3 years after the surgery vs.5.7 years for the medication-only patients.

Specifically, veterans with Parkinson’s disease who received DBS had a longer survival measured in days than a matched group of veterans who did not undergo DBS (mean = 2291.1 [standard error = 46.4] days [6.3 years] vs. 2063.8 [standard error = 47.7] days [5.7 years]; P = .006; hazard ratio = 0.69 [95% confidence interval 0.56-0.85]).

The study also found that mean age at death was similar for both groups (76.5 [standard deviation = 7.2] vs. 75.9 [standard deviation = 8.4] years, P = .67), respectively, with Parkinson’s the most common cause of death.

Study authors pointed out that medication helps manage symptoms of Parkinson’s but, thus far, not been shown to improve survival for those with Parkinson’s. “The surgery may get patients back to where they were when the medication was effective. That is, DBS is typically as effective as the medication —if the medication was still working,” Weaver said.

1Weaver FM, Stroupe KT, Smith B, Gonzalez B, Huo Z, Cao L, Ippolito D, Follett KA. Survival in patients with Parkinson’s disease after deep brain stimulation or medical management. Mov Disord. 2017 Dec;32(12):1756-1763. doi: 10.1002/mds.27235. Epub 2017 Nov 18. PubMed PMID: 29150873.

Comments are closed here.

Related Articles

VA Overall Appointment Wait Times Shorter than the Private-Sector

Despite intense scrutiny of wait times for veterans seeking VA care over the last three years, a new study pointed out that delays in the private sector weren’t statistically less in 2014 and that, possibly because of the focus, wait times now are significantly shorter for the VA compared to private-sector healthcare facilities.

Senate Blocks Agent Orange Exposure Extension to Blue Water Veterans

Blue Water Navy veterans who claim to be impacted by toxic exposure while serving off the coast of Vietnam were forced to grapple with disappointment once again as the 115th Congress ended without passing legislation addressing their VA benefits.

U.S. Medicine Recommends

More From neurology


Increasing Usage of SSRIs for Dementia Symptoms

Emerging data has suggested effectiveness for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.


Rural Veterans With MS Benefit from Clinical Video Telehealth Rehabilitation

Of the more than 28,000 veterans with multiple sclerosis (MS) who receive care at the VHA, almost 45% of them live in rural or highly rural areas, a recent conference presentation pointed out.


Algorithm Proposed to Improve Detection of MS Lesions

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is considered crucial for in vivo detection and characterization of white matter lesions (WMLs) in multiple sclerosis.


Many Survey Respondents Say Marijuana Is Good for MS

Despite insufficient evidence regarding its risks and benefits, marijuana is increasingly available and aggressively marketed to the public, according to a new study which sought to understand the public's views on the risks and benefits of marijuana use.


Even Mild TBI Can Dramatically Increase Risk of Developing Parkinson's Disease

Mild traumatic brain injury, commonly known as concussion, appears to increase a patient's risk of developing Parkinson's disease by as much as 56%, a new veterans study found.

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up