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A neurosurgeon will implant the deep brain stimulation (DBS) system in two steps. First, he or she will place the thin wire (lead) that will carry electrical signals to a precise area of your brain. Second, the surgeon will place the small pacemaker-like device, or neurostimulator, under the skin of your chest.
Your neurologist will refer you to a neurosurgeon who has special training and experience in implanting DBS systems. The neurosurgeon and staff will provide information about the surgery and answer your questions.
You will have an MRI or CT scan to provide your surgeon with images and maps of your brain. Your doctor may attach a frame, or halo, to your head to help hold it steady during the scan.
Your doctor will use these images to calculate 3-dimensional coordinates of brain locations for lead placement.
Your neurosurgeon will place the lead first, guided by the images and maps of your brain. For this part of the surgery, you will be awake so your doctor can confirm that the lead is placed in the best location to control your movement symptoms. Though you will be awake, you will not feel pain.
The surgeon may ask you to perform simple tasks like drawing a spiral, while stimulating an area of the brain to test results.
The neurostimulator may be placed at this time, or on a different day. For this part of the surgery, you will be under general anesthesia.
After checking that the lead is properly positioned, your surgeon will place the neurostimulator under the skin of your chest, just below the collarbone. Then your surgeon will connect the lead to the neurostimulator using an extension that runs under the skin from the chest to your neck and head.
Most people spend a couple of days at the hospital. Healing can take several weeks. You will have pain medications for any discomfort you may have at the incision sites.
While healing, avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting. Don't raise your arms above your shoulders, and don't bend or stretch your neck excessively. As always follow your doctor's instructions.
Your doctor will help you decide when you're ready to return to activities and will turn your device on at your first programming session.
DBS Therapy requires brain surgery. Risks of brain surgery may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, stroke, 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.
Medtronic DBS Therapy may also cause new or worsening neurological or psychiatric symptoms. In patients receiving Medtronic DBS Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide have been reported.
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.