Shuang Ho Neurosurgery team precisely treats patient with Parkinson’s

Source: Taipei Medical University Hospital

Published on 2020-12-21

Mr. Chang, who is 61 years of age, used to enjoy fishing, as well as his work in advertising and engineering.

All this was destroyed by the sudden onset of disease; he has now been stricken with Parkinson’s Disease for 15 years. In the early stages, his symptoms were treatable with medicine. Later on, though, no medicine was able to effectively keep his disease under control. Severe trembling meant he lost even his ability to care for himself, much less his ability to work.

In July, 2019, a Shuang Ho Neurosurgery team used the ROSA robotic surgery system to perform Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to treat Mr. Chang’s Parkinson’s. After the surgery, he made a strong recovery, and regained his ability to write, put on clothing, ride a motorscooter, and other actions needed for everyday life. He was also able to happily go out and have fun with his wife.

 Did you know?

Parkinson’s has become one of the most common motor disorders in adults, with 3 in 1000 getting the disease. Common symptoms include trembling hands, stiffened limbs, and slow movement. As time progresses, the disease gets worse. Patients lose facial expression; they begin to take small, rapid steps, and their center of gravity shifts forward. Falls are common, and the effects on quality of life are severe. The current drug treatment of choice is levodopa, which is designed to supplement dopamine lost after the neurons in the substantia nigra die. Most patients enjoy good symptom control during the early stages, but after using the drug for many years, some patients suffer severe motor fluctuations, dyskinesia, and loss of therapeutic effect. This is when Deep Brain Stimulation surgery becomes necessary.

The success of DBS surgery depends on precise positioning of electrodes. In 2018, Shuang Ho Hospital introduced the ROSA robotic surgery system, which is currently the most precise robotic arm available. What makes it different from other robotic arms is that the ROSA system performs surgery through completely automated computer control, with precision down to 0.23mm. Prior to surgery, the brain surgery positioning is carefully planned out. This way, during surgery, there is no need to use large scalpels, or repeatedly reposition a traditional skull clamp. This allows overcoming instrument-controller issues, thus enhancing the efficiency of surgery while greatly reducing surgery times.

For certain circumstances, Taiwan’s National Health Insurance has already accepted coverage of batteries required after DBS surgery. This greatly reduces patients’ financial burdens. Although Parkinson’s is not as life-threatening as stroke or cancer, it severely affects the quality of life; and although drug therapy achieves good results in the initial stages, side effects of drug use during the middle stages of the disease still cause extreme difficulties in everyday life. DBS surgery, in combination with appropriate drug therapy, can reduce drug side effects and enhance quality of life, to help patients live life without tremors.

Mr. Chang (seated) got his life back after surgery. Shuang Ho Hospital celebrated with him; here, the Neurosurgery team with Mr. Chang