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What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a procedure in which stimulating electrodes are placed into the deep structures of the brain. The electrodes are connected to an implanted pulse generator which is battery powered.

Selected patients with treatment resistant movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia can benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

Successful DBS allows a decrease in medication or makes a medication regimen more tolerable in these disorders. There are gains in movement and control. The intervention is used for carefully selected patients, in accordance with clinical eligibility criteria, who cannot be adequately controlled with drugs or whose drugs have severe side effects.

Screening tool for DBS suitability for TREMOR

Screening tool for DBS suitability for PD


What are the risks of DBS Surgery?

As with all types of surgery, DBS involves some degree of risk and the chance of complications.

  • There is a chance that the surgery will not benefit you as much as you would like and it is not possible to be certain before the operation how much benefit you will obtain
  • The most serious complication is a 0.5% (1 in 200) chance of a bleed into the brain (stroke) from this procedure. This can result in weakness down one side of the body, speech difficulties or impairment of vision. How much a stroke affects a person is related to the position of the bleed and how severe it is.
  • There is a risk of infection in the wounds. If treatment with antibiotics does not stop the spread of infection, the whole DBS system may have to be removed.
  • It is possible that there could be movement of the electrode. If this occurs, it may need to be replaced. This would mean repeating stage 1 of the procedure.
  • There is the possibility of lead fracture (the wire breaking). This would mean repeating stage 1 of the procedure, but may also mean replacing additional parts of the DBS system.
  • There is a small risk of the surgery inducing (causing) epilepsy. This risk is less than 1% (less than 1 in 100).
  • The risk of death resulting from the operation is very small, at around 0.2% (1 in 500).