Deep Brain Stimulation Decreases Tics in Young Adults With Severe Tourette Syndrome

April 10, 2017

NEW YORK -- April 10, 2017 -- Thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) reduces the involuntary movements and vocal outbursts experienced by young adults with severe cases of Tourette syndrome, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting DBS as a safe and effective treatment for severe cases of Tourette syndrome, and may ultimately lead to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Our study shows that deep brain stimulation is a safe, effective treatment for young adults with severe Tourette syndrome that cannot be managed with current therapies,” said Alon Mogilner, MD, Center for Neuromodulation, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, New York. “This treatment has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients who are debilitated through their teenage years and young adulthood.”

In a multi-stage procedure, the researchers insert 2 electrodes into the medial thalamus. During a second surgery the following day or a few days later, a neurostimulator is connected to the electrodes to emit electrical impulses into the medial thalamus. These impulses are adjusted during a series of follow-up outpatient visits to find the combination of settings that best control symptoms.

The study followed 13 patients with Tourette syndrome aged 16 years to 33 years with at least 6 months of follow-up visits. Study participants ranged in age from 16 years to 33 years. To determine the effectiveness of the procedure, the researchers measured the severity of tics before and after surgery using the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS).

Results showed that the severity of tics decreased on average 37% from the time of the operations to the first follow-up visit. At their latest visit, patients’ tic scores decreased by an average of 50%.

Equally significant, all patients reported in a survey 6 months after surgery that their symptoms improved either “much” or “very much,” and all said they would have the surgery again -- even those who had complications or experienced relatively less pronounced responses.

Since the study completed, 4 more patients have undergone DBS surgery for Tourette syndrome.

SOURCE: NYU Langone Medical Center

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