Deep brain stimulation

Last revised by Rohit Sharma on 26 Nov 2023

Deep brain stimulation is used in a variety of clinical settings, predominantly in patients with poorly controlled movement disorders. Although effective, its exact mode of function continues to be poorly understood 2.  

Careful patient selection and target selection are essential if the procedure is to have good efficacy.

A stereotactic frame is applied and imaging obtained to enable accurate target selection. With the aid of multiplanar reformats and operative stereotaxis, a burr hole is made for each probe and the electrode passed to the desired target, avoiding the lateral ventricles, vessels and sulci. Intraoperative stimulation is then performed to ensure adequate positioning. Leads are tunneled under the skin and the internal pulse generator implanted in a similar location to a pacemaker.

Complications can be immediate or delayed 12

  • immediate

    • hemorrhage (~1.5%)

    • infarction

    • local brain parenchymal edema (~3%)

      • unilateral or bilateral

      • 4-120 days postoperatively

      • asymptomatic or present with headache, seizure

  • delayed

    • infection (~12.5%): most commonly the pulse generator pocket

    • lead fracture (~10%)

Side effects predominantly relate to the stimulation itself, which may lead to dysarthria, disequilibrium, motor disturbances and paresthesia. These symptoms vary with the location of the probes.

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