Procedure and Recovery

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Your Procedure and Recovery

The information provided here can help make your experience easier and more comfortable. You may also find it helpful to speak with other DBS patients who’ve had the procedure.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

Procedure day

DBS surgery consists of three parts; imaging, lead placement and device placement.


The day of your surgery, at the direction of your physician, you will undergo either a head MRI or CT scan. These images help the neurosurgeon identify the exact location within your brain to place the leads.

Lead Placement

After the images are complete, you will be taken into surgery for lead placement. Standard clinical practice may very center to center. Your center may have you be asleep for most of the procedure or they may have you stay semi-awake during part of the procedure. The time you are awake can help the neurosurgeon determine if the leads are in the right place to manage your symptoms. Under the direction of your doctor, you will be given local anesthesia.

Neurostimulator Device Placement

Prior to your surgery, your doctor will discuss with you when the neurostimulator will be implanted. The device may be implanted at the same time as the lead placement or the device may be implanted a few days or weeks later, as determined by your doctor. The neurostimulator is usually placed in the chest, much like a pacemaker. You will be under general anesthesia (asleep) during this part of the procedure.

Following the surgery, you will be sent to a recovery area. Then you will be transferred to a ward, where you will begin your recovery process. Within a few days or weeks, your movement disorder specialist will turn on the DBS system and show you how to adjust it.

After surgery

During the first 24 hours, you will be closely monitored for any sign of complications. You may be able to eat a meal, get up and move around the ward. At your doctor’s discretion, you may be prescribed medication to help with post-surgical recovery.

Recovery is a Gradual Process

Allow yourself time to rest and heal. As you begin to recover, you may experience some discomfort around the incision areas or areas where the leads and extensions were placed. You will need to protect these incisions from infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the use of pain medications. Over time this pain should decrease and your energy and activity levels should increase.

Turning on your Device

The time from surgery until your system is turned on could range from a few days to several weeks. Your doctor will decide what is best for you.

Initial Programming Session

During your initial programming session, a clinician will turn on your device and program its settings wirelessly. You will receive a User's Guide for your controller. Make sure to keep it in a place where you can easily find it. Refer to your User's Guide for complete instructions on how to use and care for your controller.

Adjusting Your DBS System

Setting up your DBS system with the right programming parameters is important to ensure that the therapy is optimized for you. You and your movement disorder specialist will work together to develop the right combination of stimulation and medication. Achieving the best programming settings may require multiple adjustments, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience immediate results or need to visit your doctor more than once until you find the right settings for you. Later, you should only need appointments for minor adjustments and checkups. Discuss expectations, questions and concerns about your DBS system with your clinician. If you experience problems with your stimulation, tell your doctor right away.