Skin-related complications following deep brain stimulation surgery: A single-center retrospective analysis of 525 patients who underwent DBS surgery

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2023 Feb:225:107571. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2022.107571. Epub 2022 Dec 23.


Background: Although Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a safe and proven treatment modality for patients suffering from debilitating movement and neuropsychiatric disorders, it is not free from complications. Management of skin erosion and infection following DBS surgery constitutes a challenge in everyday clinical practice.

Objectives: Skin-related complications were evaluated in patients who underwent DBS surgery due to Parkinson's disease (PD), dystonia, essential tremor (ET), and other indications including Tourette syndrome (TS), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and epilepsy.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of clinical data was performed on patients who underwent DBS surgery between November 2008 and September 2021 at the Department of Neurosurgery, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw.

Results: 525 patients who underwent 927 DBS leads implantations were included in the analysis. There were 398 patients with PD, 80 with dystonia, 26 with ET, 7 with drug-resistant epilepsy, 5 with Multiple Sclerosis, 4 with Holme's or cerebellar tremor, 3 with TS, and 2 with OCD. 42 patients (8,0%) had 78 skin infection episodes. The overall level of skin erosion was 3,8% (20/525 patients). The risk of developing infection episode was connected with younger age at diagnosis (p = 0.017) and at surgery (p = 0.023), whereas the development of skin erosion was connected with the dystonia diagnosis (p = 0.012). Patients with dystonia showed the highest rate of infections and erosions (11/70 and 7/70 patients retrospectively).

Discussion: Postoperative skin complications are a serious side effect of DBS surgery.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that dystonic patients are at higher risk of developing skin-related complications after DBS surgery.

Keywords: Complications; Deep brain stimulation; Dystonia; Infection; Parkinson`s disease.

MeSH terms

  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / adverse effects
  • Dystonia* / etiology
  • Dystonic Disorders* / complications
  • Essential Tremor* / complications
  • Essential Tremor* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / complications
  • Parkinson Disease* / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tourette Syndrome* / complications
  • Tourette Syndrome* / surgery
  • Tremor / complications