A patient with a wheelchair

‘Only a few years ago I wouldn't have been able imagine the opportunities and improved quality of life that I now have in my daily life.’
Tony Seidl, Living with DBS*

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10 Things to Know about DBS

1.Is DBS safe?

Two decades of DBS treatment have shown both the short- and long-term safety of DBS. It is now a well-established treatment, with over 100,0001 patients already treated for a variety of illnesses. DBS surgery should be carried out by an experienced neurosurgeon working as part of an interdisciplinary team. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved and potential side effects vary from patient to patient. However, these are often temporary and stimulation can be adjusted to reduce or reverse these. You should discuss potential risks and side effects with your physician.

2.Could I be a candidate for DBS?

For Parkinson’s patients, ideal candidates are those who have responded positively to levodopa treatment but are unable to control the motor symptoms of their disease with medication alone. The ideal dystonic patient candidate should be at least 7 years old and no longer be achieving sufficient dystonia symptom relief with medications alone. However, every individual is unique. You should discuss with your neurologist and other physicians with whom you work closely whether DBS is a suitable therapy option for you.

3. Can I stop my medication after DBS surgery?

DBS does not aim to replace medication but rather to achieve the best results in combination with medication. Successful DBS surgery can sometimes lead to a decrease in medication, which in turn can potentially reduce the side effects of medication.

4. How long will my DBS system last?

How long your system lasts depends on which device you choose. Results will also vary depending on the individual settings your condition may require. The Vercise Genus™ system is rechargeable and designed to provide at least 25 years of service. The non-rechargeable Vercise™ PC system may last on average for 3–5 years.

5. How quickly can I recover after surgery?

Most patients can go home a few days after surgery. You are advised to avoid any strenuous activity like heavy lifting for the first few weeks. It can take several weeks for you to return to normal activities and you may also feel some initial pain or discomfort at the incision sites. Your physician can give you detailed information about managing your medication and daily activities during this time. DBS treatment aims as much as possible to help you return to the activities in life that are important to you, as far as your unique condition and the treatment allows.

6. Is it possible to have an MRI with a DBS implant?

The Vercise Genus™ is MRI compatible. However, you should consult with your physician to check your individual MRI eligibility.

7. Can I still have a DBS implant if I already have a pacemaker?

Although a DBS implant is typically placed in the same location as a pacemaker, a DBS implant that is connected to extension leads can also be inserted either on the right side of your chest or alternatively under the skin of the abdomen.

8. What does it feel like when my DBS device is switched on?

During the initial programming stage while the placement and levels are being adjusted, you may experience a tingling sensation. This helps pinpoint the ideal settings to ensure the best treatment for your individual needs. Afterwards, most individuals are hardly aware of the device. At most, you may notice a slight tingling in your arm or leg, or mild tension in facial muscles, but this often subsides.

9. Does the DBS device make a noise?

No, the DBS device is completely silent.

10. Will other people be able to notice my DBS device?

Since both the DBS stimulator and the wires are placed under the skin, they are often hardly noticeable from the outside. The incision leaves a small scar. For thin patients, the stimulator site will be slightly raised and the wire may appear like a slightly larger vein, but this should not be noticeable through clothing. 

References:
1. Lozano and Lipsman. (2013). Probing and regulating dysfunctional circuits using deep brainstimulation. Neuron. 77(3): 406–24.

*Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary. 

CAUTION:

The law restricts these devices to sale by or on the order of a physician. Indications, contraindications, warnings and instructions for use can be found in the product labelling supplied with each device. Information for use only in countries with applicable health authority registrations. This material not intended for use in France. 2021 Copyright © Boston Scientific Corporation or its affiliates. All rights reserved.