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Deep Brain Stimulation for Essential Tremor

Essential tremor is the most common of all the movement disorders, and causes uncontrollable, rhythmic shaking of a person’s hands, head, trunk, legs or voice. Essential tremor may be treatable with deep brain stimulation (DBS) if it is disabling and oral medicine does not help.

DBS for Essential Tremor: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

photo of senior's hands
  • The Johns Hopkins Neurostimulation and Advanced Treatments Center offers stereotactic DBS: Your head is held still in a frame, which supplies surgeons with exact coordinates for placing the lead. This procedure is performed using numbing medicines and mild sedation. For the surgery to implant the neurostimulator, you are asleep under general anesthesia.
  • Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons have extensive experience in DBS. Our experts pioneered microelectrode recording (MER), a technology for precise targeting of DBS lead placement.

DBS for Essential Tremor: What to Expect

Patients with essential tremor for whom medications have not worked, or those having unmanageable side effects from medication, may be candidates for DBS treatment.

Your team will conduct a careful assessment, and you will decide together if DBS is a good option for you.

The procedure involves making one or more small openings in the skull and in the covering of the brain, inserting a lead, or electrode, and guiding it to a very specific area of the brain. The lead connects with an insulated wire to a very small neurostimulator that the surgeon places in your abdomen or chest. The neurostimulator sends an electrical signal to the lead, and this helps control the essential tremor.

It’s important to remember that surgical implantation of the DBS device is only part of the procedure. It takes time and commitment to get the best outcome, including extensive pre-surgical testing and mapping and follow-up visits for adjustment of the device.

Your team at the Neuromodulation and Advanced Treatments Center will ensure you understand each step, and provide you with expert, supportive care throughout your procedure and afterward.

Dr. Kelly Mills, M.D.
Kelly Mills, M.D., Co-Director of the Neuromodulation and Advanced Treatments Center

Meet Our DBS and Advanced Treatments Experts

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