Although deep brain stimulation is generally safe, any type of surgery has the risk of complications. Also, the brain stimulation itself may cause side effects.

Surgery risks

Deep brain stimulation involves boring small holes in the skull to implant the electrodes, and surgery to implant the device that contains the batteries under the skin in the chest. Complications of surgery may include:

  • Bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage)
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea
  • Heart problems
  • Incision scarring

With deep brain stimulation, surgery isn't a one-time procedure. The batteries that are implanted in the chest have a limited life span, and when they run out, your symptoms may quickly return. Replacing the batteries requires another surgery. It's also possible for a wire connecting the batteries to an electrode to break or for other malfunctions to occur.

Possible side effects after surgery

Side effects associated with deep brain stimulation may include:

  • Seizure
  • Infection
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Temporary pain and swelling at the implantation site

A few weeks after the surgery, the device will be turned on and the process of finding the best settings for you begins. This process may take several months. Some settings may cause side effects, but these often improve with further adjustments of your device.

Possible side effects of stimulation

  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Muscle tightness of the face or arm
  • Speech problems
  • Balance problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Unwanted mood changes, such as mania and depression
May. 14, 2014