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Procedure: What to Expect – DBS Therapy


So that you can receive DBS Therapy, a device similar to a pacemaker is placed under the skin in your chest. Very thin wires connect the device to your brain to enable the signals to reach the source of your symptoms. Here's what to expect during and after the procedure that makes therapy possible.

Having the Procedure

The duration and steps of the implant procedure can vary, and the procedure typically lasts several hours. The hospital stay is usually a few days for the preoperative tests, planning, implant procedure, and initial recovery before home care.

People who have had the procedure usually describe it as demanding and exhausting rather than painful. Afterwards, you may have some discomfort and soreness that can be managed with pain medication.

Implanting the Leads

In the first part of the procedure, your neurosurgeon places the leads in a precise part of your brain. Your brain is mapped with an MRI or CT scan.

Implanting the Neurostimulator

The neurostimulator is placed under the skin of your chest just below the collar bone. The surgeon will also connect the lead to the neurostimulator with extensions that are placed under the skin, leading up from the chest to your neck and head.


People usually go home a few days after the surgery. Healing can take several weeks. Discomfort or pain at the incision sites can be managed with medication. When you are sent home to heal, typically your device will not be turned on until your first programming session.

For several weeks you will avoid strenuous activity, arm movements over your shoulder, and excessive stretching of your neck. You may gradually want to try activities that were difficult before your surgery. Talk about this with your doctor first, and be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions.

Programming Sessions

After you have healed from the procedure, your doctor will program the device to best control your individual symptoms while minimising side effects. You will return for follow-up sessions to further adjust the settings. Periodic adjustments are a routine part of DBS Therapy.

After the initial programming, people with tremor may feel a brief tingling sensation, and usually experience relief from symptoms almost immediately. However, results vary. The full effect of the therapy may not be immediate. You will see the best results after the system has been fine-tuned for your specific symptom control needs. It may take several months to reach maximum effect.

Depending on the system and your therapy needs, you may have a controller that will allow you to turn the system on and off, adjust the stimulation, and check the battery.

What Are the Risks of the DBS Therapy Implant Procedure?

DBS Therapy requires brain surgery. Risks of brain surgery may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, seizures and infection. Some of these may be fatal. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead or lead/extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS Therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return.

Talk to your doctor about the risks that may be applicable to your specific situation.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.