Deep brain stimulation may be effective treatment for Tourette's syndrome

Oct 27, 2009

Deep brain stimulation may be a safe and effective treatment for Tourette syndrome, according to research published in the October 27, 2009, print issue of Neurology.

"Our findings hold promise for helping people with severe Tourette syndrome, who are in need of new treatment options to improve their quality of life," said study author Andrea Cavanna, MD, of the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.

It is estimated that two million Americans are affected by Tourette syndrome, which is a characterized by uncontrolled movements and , or tics, lasting more than a year. The first symptoms of Tourette syndrome are almost always noticed in childhood and some common tics include eye blinking, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging and head or shoulder jerking. People who have Tourette syndrome often also have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety or ().

The study involved 15 people with severe Tourette syndrome and OCD who were an average age of 30 and continued to have severe symptoms after trying medications and psychobehavioral treatments. They also had high levels of depression and anxiety at the start of the study. The participants were followed and tested for two years after , which involves a surgically implanted brain pacemaker that sends electrical impulses to certain parts of the brain.

The study found that the participants experienced 52 percent fewer tics on average and a 26 to 33 percent improvement in the symptoms of OCD, depression and anxiety two years after deep brain stimulation began. Deep brain stimulation had no significant effect on thinking abilities in the study.

"Despite having only 15 patients in this study, it is the largest to date on the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation as a treatment for Tourette syndrome," said Cavanna. "The results showed that all 15 people who were assessed after two years' treatment experienced improvements in disabling tics and neurological problems, which is encouraging. Unfortunately three patients from the original group of 18 were no longer part of the study at follow up and this limits the ability to generalize our findings. More research needs to be done to confirm that deep brain stimulation is a safe and effective treatment for Tourette syndrome."

Deep brain stimulation is FDA approved for the treatment of essential tremor, Parkinson's disease and dystonia.

Source: American Academy of Neurology (news : web)

Explore further: A new cause of mental disease?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can strep throat cause OCD, Tourette syndrome?

Sep 30, 2009

New research shows that streptococcal infection does not appear to cause or trigger Tourette syndrome or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The research is published in the September 30, 2009, online issue of Neurology®, the me ...

Recommended for you

A new cause of mental disease?

3 hours ago

Astrocytes, the cells that make the background of the brain and support neurons, might be behind mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, according to new research by a Portuguese team from ...

Molecular basis of age-related memory loss explained

Jul 22, 2014

From telephone numbers to foreign vocabulary, our brains hold a seemingly endless supply of information. However, as we are getting older, our ability to learn and remember new things declines. A team of ...

The neurochemistry of addiction

Jul 22, 2014

We've all heard the term "addictive personality," and many of us know individuals who are consistently more likely to take the extra drink or pill that puts them over the edge. But the specific balance of ...

Study examines blood markers, survival in patients with ALS

Jul 21, 2014

The blood biomarkers serum albumin and creatinine appear to be associated with survival in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and may help define prognosis in patients after they are diagnosed with the fatal ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Oct 28, 2009
Is the target big enough for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) ??