Second in a continuing series

Jack Condon hopes that his recent brain surgery, called deep brain stimulation, will help limit the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease, but he will have to wait weeks or months to truly feel the effects.

Condon underwent two surgeries recently as part of the deep brain stimulation, but the device implanted in his brain and chest will not be turned on until an upcoming follow-up appointment.

Condon’s neurosurgeon Dr. David Pootrakul is pleased with his patient’s procedure, even though the surgery was “pretty routine.”

Condon was Pootrakul’s 100th patient at Banner Boswell Medical Center to have the procedure done as an original implant, although he’s done replacements and other procedure as well; he’s eager to perform even more of the procedures.

“I want to do more than that,” Pootrakul said.

Deep brain stimulation surgery implants a small device in the patient’s brain that functions like a pacemaker does for the heart, providing electrical stimulation to the area of the brain that controls motor symptoms, decreasing or sometimes eliminating the uncontrollable movements that become debilitating to Parkinson’s patients like Condon.

Condon’s surgeries will help alleviate the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease, including pain in his extremities, rigidity, and dyskinisia, or uncontrollable movements. He also hopes the procedure will allow him to cut down on the more than 30 pills a day he takes as part of a medication cocktail to keep some of those symptoms at bay.

Although Pootrakul said deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is not a very common procedure, he still called the surgery routine. But that’s good news for the patient when there are no surprises or mishaps.

“Our team is very good,” Pootrakul said.

Besides DBS, Pootrakul also pointed out that Boswell’s neurosurgery department keeps local patients from having to travel elsewhere, such downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale, for some surgeries.

The DBS procedure includes two surgeries, the first to place the electrical nodes in the correct spot of the brain, followed by the placement of a battery in the chest.

“With that first procedure, you really want accuracy,” Pootrakul said.

With the help of a computer and a complicated bit of geometry, doctors know when they get to the correct section of the brain because of the static noise the cells make.

“You hear it when you get to the right spot,” Pootrakul said.

Joey Gregan, a sales representative for Medtronic, which manufactures the devices, was present during Condon’s surgery and explained some of the immediate, albeit not long-lasting, relief the patient showed.

When the surgeons conducted a test stimulation in the operating room, Condon’s limbs relaxed, a good sign since rigidity in his arms, wrists, legs, and ankles was one of his major Parkinson’s symptoms.

“Also, after we placed the first of the two leads, Mr. Condon was already experiencing a “microlesion” effect, which is when a patient gets partial or full relief of their PD symptoms just by the placement of the lead wire without any electrical stimulation,” Gregan said in an e-mail.

Condon will work out the best levels of stimulation with his neurologist Dr. Holly Shill over the next few weeks.

He is recovering at home in Corte Bella.

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