Cutting-Edge Deep Brain Stimulation Technique Performed & Pioneered at UCSF

KGO Radio talk show host Ronn Owens, a popular radio personality in San Francisco, recently reported on having brain surgery at UCSF.  The procedure was performed in an MR scanner using a cutting-edge interventional technique that was previously described in a UCSF article.


The surgery, called Deep Brain Stimulation, is performed on patients with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. During the procedure, deep brain stimulator (DBS) electrodes are placed at specific sites in the brain.  The approach differs from conventional DBS surgery in that the patient does not need to be awake and cooperative during the electrode implantation procedure.  Awake surgery is necessary for conventional DBS implantation to assure that the electrode is in the desired region of the brain. 

The new technique, which was pioneered at UCSF and is commonly termed “asleep DBS”, uses intra-operative MR imaging to place the electrodes and does so with sub-millimetric accuracy.  Thus, there is no need for the patient to undergo an arduous awake surgical procedure.  Over 150 asleep DBS procedures have been performed at UCSF since 2010 and clinical outcomes for patients with Parkinson’s disease and dystonia have been excellent.

Learn more about this transformative brain surgery here.

Alastair J. Martin, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor and Co-Director of the Image-Guided Surgery Specialized Resource Group in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Martin’s research is focused on applications where MR methods enhance the delivery of therapy. His research specifically targets neurosurgical and endovascular applications where MR techniques may provide significant benefits. Dr. Martin primarily focuses his research on the development of MR guidance techniques for delivering deep brain stimulator electrodes to precise locations inside the brain.