British Columbia plans to double the number of deep brain stimulation surgeries for patients with Parkinson’s disease whose symptoms don’t improve with medication.
The Health Ministry says 72 surgeries will be performed in the current fiscal year, up from 36 operations, as part of a program starting in April.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says the surgeries at UBC Hospital in Vancouver will be done within 12 weeks.
Only one neurosurgeon does the surgeries in B.C., and Dix says the province aims to recruit another doctor to increase access for patients who often experience tremors, stiff muscles and balance problems.
Dr. Christopher Honey currently performs the primary surgery as well as replacement of batteries that are like pacemakers implanted in patients’ chests, but Dix says another surgeon will now assist with the latter operation.
Deep brain stimulation is an invasive eight-hour surgery performed while the patient is awake to target a specific area of the brain and alter its activity.