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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

New access to Parkinson’s surgical procedure for regional NSW patients

Health Industry Hub | June 13, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used to treat movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and tremor. Wollongong Private Hospital is offering new hope for local patients with Parkinson’s disease by introducing this treatment option previously unavailable between Sydney and Melbourne.

DBS involves implanting small electrodes in the brain, which are controlled by a pacemaker-like device. These electrodes produce electrical impulses that help manage movement disorders. Devices from Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and Abbott are used in this procedure, with remote programming of the neurostimulator funded since 2022.

Neurosurgeon Dr Craig Vonhoff and neurologist Dr Derrick Soh recently completed the first DBS implantation at Wollongong Private Hospital.

“Parkinson’s is a progressive disease. Over time people find medications less effective or suffer increased side-effects from them. DBS allows for a reduced reliance on those medications and an associated reduction in medication-related side effects. DBS can also be adapted as the disease progresses and becomes more severe,” Dr Soh said.

Dr Vonhoff added, “Wollongong Private Hospital has excellent facilities where we work with a dedicated team within operating theatres, intensive care, and on the ward to ensure our patients are comfortable, well cared for, and supported throughout their journey.”

Having trained in large metropolitan hospitals, Dr Vonhoff expressed his excitement about offering this treatment locally.

“Bringing this service to the Illawarra and wider region provides local residents with debilitating health conditions an opportunity to seek surgery and ongoing treatment close to home,” he commented.

The first patient to benefit from the new service was 63-year-old Sandra McDonald from Bermagui, NSW, who has suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for more than a decade.

“After 10 years of taking medication for Parkinson’s, the drugs were becoming ineffective and causing serious side effects,” Mrs McDonald said. “We live near Bermagui so it’s an easy 4-hour drive to Wollongong. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the big city crazy traffic. The hospital in Wollongong is centrally located close to shops and accommodation.”

Wollongong Private Hospital Acting CEO, Malcolm Passmore, highlighted Ramsay Health Care’s commitment to providing regional NSW residents with access to leading private health care options closer to home.

“We’re pleased to offer this new procedure to people in Illawarra and surrounding regions. Wollongong Private Hospital is committed to bringing leading health care options to the region. Patients do not need to travel to capital cities to access excellent care or to be treated by leading specialists,” Passmore said.

As the DBS technology continues to progress, treatment efficacy will continue to improve and disease indications will expand. Hardware advances such as longer-lasting batteries will reduce the frequency of battery replacement and segmented leads will facilitate improvements in the stimulation and have the potential to minimise associated side effects.

Targeting advances such as specialised imaging facilitates improved accuracy for lead positioning and trajectory planning. Software advances such as closed-loop stimulation and remote programming also enable DBS to be a more personalised and accessible technology.

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