Diann Shaddox Foundation for Essential Tremor
Deep Brain Stimulation
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Although deep brain stimulation is generally safe, any type of surgery has the risk of complications. Also, the brain stimulation itself may cause side effects.
Surgery risks. Deep brain stimulation involves boring small holes in the skull to implant the electrodes, and surgery to implant the device that contains the batteries under the skin in the chest. Complications of surgery may include:
Possible side effects after surgery. Side effects associated with deep brain stimulation may include:
Possible side effects of stimulation
Deep brain stimulation is a serious and potentially risky procedure. Even if you might be eligible for deep brain stimulation, you and your doctors must carefully weigh the risks and potential benefits of the procedure.
Next, preparing for surgery. Before surgery, you need to have medical tests to make sure that deep brain stimulation is safe for you and is a good option in your case. You also need brain-imaging studies, such as an MRI, before the surgery, to map the areas of your brain where the electrodes will be implanted.
What you can expect.
In general, here's how surgery for deep brain stimulation works.
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Stimulation may be constant, 24 hours a day, or your doctor may advise you to turn your pulse generator off at night and back on in the morning, depending on your condition. You can turn stimulation on and off with a special remote control that you'll take home with you. In some cases, your doctor may program the pulse generator to let you make minor adjustments at home.
The battery life of your generator varies with usage and settings. The battery may last between three and five years. When the battery needs to be replaced, your surgeon will replace the generator during an outpatient procedure.
You must remain in close contact with your surgeon and neurologist to make sure that the pulse generator is working correctly.
Deep brain stimulation won't cure your disease, but it may help lessen your symptoms. If deep brain stimulation works, your symptoms will improve significantly, but they usually don't go away completely. In some cases, medications may still be needed for certain conditions. Deep brain stimulation isn't successful for everyone. There are a number of variables involved in the success of deep brain stimulation. It's important to talk with your doctor before surgery about what type of improvement you can expect for your condition.
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