Using DBS significantly improves Tourette syndrome symptoms

Research from the University of Florida showed that after a year of DBS implantation, the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale improved from 75.01 to 41.19.

Other symptoms that improved were:


  • Motor tics from 21.00 to 12.97

  • Phonic tics from 16.82 to 9.63


However, side effects were noticed in 35.4% of patients. The most common side effects were reported as dysarthria (6.3%) and paresthesia (8.2%). 

DBS treatment for Tourette syndrome is not approved by the FDA and DBS surgeries are rarely performed at any one centre. Because there is a lack of data available, DBS centres created the International Deep Brain Stimulation Database to share data.

The data for this research was collected from 185 patients who had DBS for Tourette syndrome at 31 different institutions in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America from 2012 to 2016.

The centromedian thalamic region (57.1%), anterior globus pallidus internus (GPi), posterior GPi (15.2%) and anterior limb of the internal capsule (2.5%), were the areas most commonly targeted by DBS in this study.   

Speaking on the study, Michael Oking, MD, University of Florida said:

"The improvements we saw are pretty impressive compared to pharmacological or behavioral approaches. The majority of patients with Tourette syndrome don't need surgery, but there are a group of patients with very severe symptoms -- people who can't function, hold a job, go to school, or have normal relationships -- and this could be a valuable therapy for them"

However, Donald Gilbert, MD, MS, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre suggested:

"The study design is not rigorous enough to form the basis of a standard treatment guideline for severe Tourette Syndrome, and the data leave unanswered questions about more global changes in the patients' day-to-day function.”


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