Benefits and Risks – DBS Therapy

Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Dystonia uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver minute electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas within the brain.


DBS Therapy for Dystonia may help control your symptoms, but it is not a cure. When you turn on the DBS System, it will deliver stimulation that may decrease some or all of your motor symptoms. Your symptoms will return when the system is turned off.

Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy is:

  • Adjustable – Stimulation parameters can be set to meet your specific needs.
  • Reversible – Unlike other surgical treatments, DBS Therapy does not involve the destruction or removal of any part of your brain. The Medtronic DBS system may be removed if necessary.


Risks of DBS Therapy can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Implanting the neurostimulator system carries the same risks associated with other brain surgery.

Your doctor can provide more information about these and other potential risks and side effects. Many side effects related to stimulation can be managed by adjusting the stimulation settings. Several follow-up visits may be needed to find the best stimulation settings for you.

Risks of surgery may include:

  • Paralysis, coma, and/or death
  • Bleeding inside the brain (intracranial haemorrhage)
  • Leakage of fluid surrounding the brain
  • Seizures
  • Infection
  • Allergic response to implanted materials
  • Temporary or permanent neurological complications
  • Confusion or attention problems
  • Pain at the surgery sites
  • Headache

Side Effects

Possible side effects of brain stimulation may include:

  • Tingling sensation (paraesthesia)
  • Temporary worsening of symptoms
  • Speech problems like whispering (dysarthria), and trouble forming words (dysphasia)
  • Vision problems (double vision)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness (disequilibrium)
  • Facial and limb muscle weakness or partial paralysis (paresis)
  • Abnormal, involuntary movements (chorea, dystonia, dyskinesia)
  • Movement problems or reduced coordination
  • Jolting or shocking sensation
  • Numbness (hypoesthesia)
  • Déjà vu (corrected by surgically revised lead placement)
  • Irritating cough with stimulation on

Device Complications

Possible device complications include:

  • Pain, lack of healing, or infection where the Medtronic DBS System components are implanted
  • Infection or scarring caused by the system components eroding through your skin
  • Readjustment surgery if the lead or lead/extension connector moves, or if mechanical or electrical problems occur
  • An allergic reaction to or rejection of the system by your body
  • Tissue damage resulting from programming parameters or a malfunction of one of the parts of the system

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.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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