April 20, 2004

Deep Brain Stimulation Improves Patients Lives at HSC

Manitobans suffering from uncontrollable tremors and a number of other movement disorders are benefiting from a new procedure being performed by the Health Sciences Centre's neurosurgical team, Health Minister Dave Chomiak announced today.

The Deep Brain Stimulation project has already improved the lives of eight patients who have been operated on over the past four months.

"The investment in this new piece of leading-edge equipment and the investment in the Gamma Knife and PET scanner has made Manitoba a centre for neurosurgery in Canada," said Chomiak. "This equipment improves access to the tools health care professionals in Manitoba need to provide quality care in a field where technology plays an plays an increasing role in providing effective and efficient services."

Dr. Brock Wright, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Chief Operating Officer of the HSC said the strength of the HSC neurosurgery team plays a major role when it comes to physician recruitment and retention.

"Like any industry, the best and brightest in health care want to be where they can use the latest tools and technology," Dr. Wright said. "Success brings success. The reputation of our neurosurgery leaders and these tools are making a mark on the Canadian health care scene."

The procedure involves inserting a micro-electrode deep inside the brain and precisely mapping out a specific area using single cell recordings. This is done by communicating with the patient, who remains awake during the surgery, which is done under local anesthetic. The patient is asked to move different limbs during recording. Also, the effects of test stimulation are monitored with the patient’s help. Once the area is completely mapped out a permanent electrode is inserted into the brain. The electrode is connected to a pacemaker-like unit, implanted under the skin of the chest, which generates electrical impulses that eliminate the symptoms.

HSC neurosurgeon, Dr. Jerry Krcek said the procedure often results in remarkable change in a patient’s life. "In many cases, it provides patients with almost immediate relief from their symptoms and improves their quality of life in ways they never thought possible. Being able to contribute to such remarkable change in a patient's life is truly gratifying."

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