Statement: Deep Brain Stimulation and Tourette Syndrome

On Thursday, April 1, 2004, "Good Morning America" aired a segment on a medical  procedure on one patient with Tourette Syndrome. Following is a statement from TSA Medical and Scientific Advisors.

The Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) is keenly interested in the neurosurgical procedure performed one month ago on a severely affected adult male patient with Tourette Syndrome (TS) at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. 

Highly experimental, the procedure used -- Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)--involves the implantation of electrodes in the brain that are stimulated by a surgically implanted pulse generator in the upper chest.  Some published reports indicate that this surgical intervention may aid in the amelioration of involuntary movements in patients with several movement disorders, among them Dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease. 

However, it should be noted that this is a single case report involving one patient with TS.  While it is encouraging that at the present time the patient is experiencing a reduction in symptoms, insufficient time has elapsed since the operation to conclude that this symptom abatement will persist.  Moreover, it should be understood that when undergoing this procedure, there are serious risks involved that could include cerebral bleeding and infection.  In many cases, currently available medications and behavioral therapies do bring substantial relief to many by reducing the tics, obsessions, compulsions and attentional problems that often co-occur in people with TS.  

Unfortunately, in the past we have witnessed a variety of therapies heralded as breakthroughs in TS treatment that have proved ineffective in the long run.  Only rigorous, methodologically sound scientific study of DBS will provide the answers we seek. 

Toward that end, in February, 2004 the TSA Scientific Advisory Board recommended that TSA convene a panel of experts from around the world to provide a comprehensive review of DBS, and advise us on the safety and efficacy of this procedure. TSA is moving forward with the organization of such a study panel.

 

John Walkup, MD, Chair              Neal Swerdlow, MD, Ph.D., Chair          Sue Levi-Pearl, VP

TSA Medical Advisory Bd.           TSA Scientific Advisory Bd.                  TSA Scientific  & Medical Programs

 

 

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