News Brief

PHILADELPHIA - A new multi-center study, including neurologists and neurosurgeons from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, reveals that Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) – a treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients with medication-resistant muscle movement impairment or tremors – can improve those symptoms and reduce medications for patients implanted with the device. The study appears Online First in Lancet Neurology.

“The study answered some very important questions concerning cognition and mood with implantation alone, versus implantation with stimulation. We found that DBS surgery did not increase depressive symptoms, it actually led to an improvement in depression scores, and also led to improvements in motor ability and medication levels,” said Stacy Horn, DO, assistant professor of Clinical Neurology with Penn's Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center, who led the clinical trial at Penn Medicine and co-authored the paper.

Gordon H. Baltuch, MD, PhD, a professor of Neurosurgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and study co-author, noted that “the group also dropped the infection rate to 4 percent from previously published 10 percent, which shows that, as a field, we are collectively improving the safety of this procedure and working in a collaborative fashion.”

Contrary to previous research, DBS devices implanted in the subthalamic nuclease (StN) did not appear to cause depression. In the study, depression scores improved significantly in the stimulation group at three months, compared to the control group of implanted patients who hadn't had their devices turned on yet (9.14 versus 1.8 points, using the Hamilton Depression Inventory (HDI) ). The study also shows that DBS using constant current can benefit PD patients, compared with constant voltage configurations.

The study was funded by the DBS device maker, St. Jude Medical Neuromodulation Division, and, as required by Lancet Neurology, the data was separately analyzed by an independent statistician at an academic institution.

For more, please see the University of Florida press release or the Lancet Neurology article.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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