Are complications less common in deep brain stimulation than in ablative procedures for movement disorders?

Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2006;84(2-3):72-81. doi: 10.1159/000094035. Epub 2006 Jun 20.


The side effects and complications of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and ablative lesions for tremor and Parkinson's disease were recorded in 256 procedures (129 DBS and 127 lesions). Perioperative complications (seizures, haemorrhage, confusion) were rare and did not differ between the two groups. The rate of hardware-related complications was 17.8%. In ventral intermediate (Vim) thalamotomies, the rate of side effects was 74.5%, in unilateral Vim-DBS 47.3%, while in 7 bilateral Vim-DBS 13 side effects occurred. Most of the side effects of Vim-DBS were reversible upon switching off, or altering, stimulation parameters. In unilateral pallidotomy, the frequency of side effects was 21.9%, while in bilateral staged pallidotomies it was 33.3%. Eight side effects occurred in 11 procedures with pallidal DBS. In 22 subthalamic nucleus DBS procedures, 23 side effects occurred, of which 8 were psychiatric or cognitive. Unilateral ablative surgery may not harbour more postoperative complications or side effects than DBS. Some of the side effects following lesioning are transient and most but not all DBS side effects are reversible. In the Vim DBS is safer than lesioning, while in the pallidum, unilateral lesions are well tolerated.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / adverse effects
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / surgery
  • Movement Disorders / therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / surgery
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome