Doctor and patient discuss the patient's condition

Procedure: What to Expect – DBS Therapy

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A neurosurgeon will implant your Reclaim DBS system. You'll be awake for some parts of the surgery. Usually the surgery lasts several hours, and the steps involved can vary depending upon the person. There may be some discomfort during the initial stages of the surgery. However, the placement of the leads is not painful (your brain is not sensitive to pain). Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

Before the Procedure

You will be admitted to the hospital either the night before or the morning of your surgery. You may have your head shaved prior to surgery to help prevent infection.

During the Procedure

The duration of the procedure and the specific steps involved can vary.

Your surgery may consist of the following steps:

  1. A metal frame may be attached to your head. The headframe is a special instrument that allows the neurosurgeon to find the correct path to the target site in your brain. Your surgeon may also use frameless technology that doesn’t require a frame to be attached to your head during the procedure.
  2. Pictures of your brain will be taken using an MRI, CAT scan, or both. These images will allow your surgeon to determine where to place the leads.
  3. Your scalp and skull will be numbed to minimize any discomfort. In the operating room, a small hole will be drilled in your skull for the lead. Later in the surgery, a cap will be placed over this hole.
  4. Your surgeon will stimulate areas of your brain to determine the best lead placement. You will be lightly sedated but awake so that you can help your doctor determine the effect on your symptoms. The neurostimulator and extension will then be implanted, either right away or in a second surgery later. For this part of the procedure, you will be sedated and asleep.

After the Procedure

Once your body has healed following the implant procedure, your clinician will program the neurostimulator to start sending the electrical pulses that help control your symptoms. He or she will adjust your stimulation wirelessly. The process is non-invasive and may take a few hours to complete.

It may take several visits to adjust the stimulation before the best settings for you are determined. Over time further adjustments may be necessary.


Indications: The Medtronic Reclaim™ DBS Therapy is indicated for bilateral stimulation of the anterior limb of the internal capsule, AIC, as an adjunct to medications and as an alternative to anterior capsulotomy for treatment of chronic, severe, treatment-resistant obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) inadult patients who have failed at least three selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Reclaim DBS Therapy for OCD is available in a very limited number of centres.  Only a specialised multidisciplinary group of physicians can determine whether this therapy is right for the patient.


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.