First European implants of St Jude Medical's deep brain stimulation system for Parkinson’s Disease

27 March 2009

St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) has announced the first patient implants of its Libra deep brain stimulation (DBS) system for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that affects a person's control over his or her movements and speech.

The announcement was made at the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies and the Société Française de Neurochirugie joint annual meeting in Marseille, France.

“We have initiated a limited launch of these systems in Europe and have recently completed implants in Austria, Germany and Greece,” said Chris Chavez, president of the St Jude Medical Neuromodulation Division. “We look forward to expanding the availability of these systems in order to help physicians meet the needs of their patients.”

First implants were performed by Professor François Alesch, MD, at the Medical University of Vienna, Vienna Austria, Professor Jan Vesper, MD, at the University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany, and Professor Damianos Sakas, MD, at the Evangelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece.

“Deep brain stimulation is a safe surgical treatment for advanced Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr Alesch, a professor of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the Medical University of Vienna. “The availability of the Libra DBS systems allows us to choose the system that best meets the needs of the individual patient.”

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association estimates that Parkinson’s disease affects approximately 6.3 million people worldwide. The disease usually develops in people between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of onset of 60 years. Parkinson's disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers.

“In properly selected patients, deep brain stimulation therapy can provide extremely good results,” said Professor Alfons Schnitzler, MD, at the University of Düsseldorf. “For these patients, DBS may reduce akinesia, rigidity, tremor and levodopa-induced motor complications resulting in a significant improvement in their quality of life.”

Diagram of an implanted neurostimulation deviceThe Libra and LibraXP neurostimulators are constant current devices and feature the high battery capacity, which may maximize the time between device replacement procedures. The systems consist of a neurostimulator — a surgically implanted battery operated device that generates mild electrical pulses — and leads which carry the pulses to a targeted area in the brain.

The system functions in a manner similar to a cardiac pacemaker by influencing the irregular nerve signals responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This therapy can be non-invasively adjusted by a clinician to meet individual patient needs.

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