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Treating the deep brain with ultrasound

Bin He | Via Carnegie Mellon | March 16, 2018

For nearly 60 years, doctors have been using cardiac pacemakers to treat patients with abnormal heart rates, otherwise known as heart arrhythmias. These pacemakers—which consist of a battery, computerized generator, and multiple electrodes—send electrical pulses to the heart when they detect any kind of abnormal cardiac activity, like when the heart is beating too slow or too fast. In general, cardiac pacemakers help regulate a patient’s heart rate to make sure enough blood is being pumped to their vital organs.

In the early 1990s, more than 30 years after the advent of cardiac pacemakers, doctors began developing similar devices for the brain called deep brain stimulators—more commonly known as brain pacemakers. Deep brain stimulators consist of a generator (which is implanted in the chest) and a pair of electrodes that are implanted in the brain during brain surgery. Much like cardiac pacemakers, which regulate the heart’s electrical activity, deep brain stimulators regulate the electrical activity of the brain. Deep brain stimulators are highly effective because doctors can use them to target and stimulate only the parts of the brain that are malfunctioning. Today, doctors have used these devices to effectively treat Parkinson’s disease and to explore treating several other neurological disorders such as epilepsy and depression… Continue reading.

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