“Ask the Doctor” with Dr. Rebecca Gilbert 

Q. My Parkinson’s symptoms started almost immediately after my kidney transplant surgery. Could the surgery have caused me to develop Parkinson’s disease (PD)?

A. I have had a number of patients whose PD emerged after a major medical stress such as an organ transplant. It is possible that the stress of the event makes the symptoms of PD that may have been present, but too subtle to be detected, more obvious. The hypothesis is that PD was already developing in the brain and the major insult or surgery “revealed” the pathology that was already there.

Q. I was diagnosed with PD about ten years ago. Carbidopa/levodopa still works well for me, but the effects wear off after two hours and then it takes 30-45 minutes for the next dose to kick in. In addition, I have to be very careful not to eat any protein before and after my dose or else the medication doesn’t work. My doctor says that deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help. Is this true?

A. Yes! You could reasonably expect these problems to improve with DBS. DBS is often the go-to therapy for people with a good response to Carbidopa/levodopa, but one that is erratic and dependent on things like diet. In addition, good candidates for DBS do not have significant cognitive issues or balance issues. The DBS neurologist and neurosurgeon will evaluate all these elements to determine if DBS is the right path for you.

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