Medical Center of Aurora December 31, 2009

First Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery at The Medical Center of Aurora a Success

Dr. Mike Rauzzino, Neurosurgeon, completed the first Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) procedure at The Medical Center of Aurora Main Campus in November/December, 2009. The surgical procedure was a coordinated effort between Dr. Rauzzino and Dr. H. Rai Kakkar, Neurologist.

DBS is a 3-step surgical procedure that implants electrodes inside a person’s brain while the patient is “awake” (sedated but arousable). The electrodes are placed in a region of the brain much smaller than the size of a pea and are connected to a stimulator power pack in the patient’s chest. This stimulator pack is activated/adjusted via remote control to disrupt brain signals that cause the tremors and rigidity commonly seen with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Essential Tremor (ET) disorders. This procedure can make a HUGE difference in the quality of people’s lives who have been rendered incapable of performing the simplest of daily activities due to the severity of their tremors.

DBS remote control

DBS remote control

The patient was a 74 year-old female. She was diagnosed with “Familial tremor” at the age of 13. “Familial tremor” is an Essential Tremor that is caused by a genetic mutation. Approximately 50% of patients with ET are “familial.” It is unclear what causes Essential Tremor in those that are affected but do not have genetic mutations.

Essential Tremor can affect any part of the body but most commonly affects the hands and arms. ET is different than Parkinson’s Disease in that PD tremors occur when the hands are at rest. ET tremors occur when the person is attempting to complete tasks such as drinking a glass of water or writing.

After the first surgery on November 17, 2009, the patient could lift a heavy coffee cup to her mouth without any tremors, which she was unable to do prior to the surgery!

The patient returned to the hospital for the second phase on her surgery on December 10, 2009. The patient responded remarkably well to the initial programming. Both she and her family were extremely thrilled with the results of the surgery.

DBS Patient

Patient during second visit to TMCA for DBS surgery

There are currently only 2 other neurosurgeons in the Denver Metro area who are trained to do DBS procedures. Current research is being done to expand the use of DBS to potentially treat other disorders including depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

If you have any questions about DBS, please contact Emily Crowley at or call (303) 873-5682.