Getting a DBS System

The DBS Journey: On Your Way to Independence

As you look forward to your life with more freedom from Parkinson’s disease (PD) or essential tremor (ET) symptoms, you may want to know what the implant procedure and immediate recovery may be like.

Preparing for surgery 

Before your deep brain stimulation (DBS) system implant procedure, you will go through a number of evaluations by your medical team to determine if you are a good candidate. This may include:

  • An evaluation by a neurologist to determine if your symptoms are likely to respond to DBS therapy
  • An evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist to determine the status of your cognitive (thinking skills) and mental health

If you and your health care team decide you are a good candidate for DBS therapy and the St. Jude Medical Infinity™ DBS system, you will have a discussion with your doctor about scheduling surgery.

Surgery day

On the day of your DBS system surgery, your procedure may involve the following:

  • Imaging: You will undergo either a head CT or MRI scan to help your neurosurgeon pinpoint the exact location in your brain to place the leads. 
  • Lead placement: You may be asleep during this part of the procedure, or the neurosurgeon may perform this while you are semi-awake. Being semi-awake can help your neurosurgeon determine if the leads are placed in the right spot to help with your movement-related symptoms. You will receive a local anesthetic so that you do not feel any discomfort.
  • Implantable pulse generator (IPG) placement: Prior to your surgery, your doctor will discuss with you when he or she will implant your IPG; it may be during your lead placement or at a later time. The IPG is usually placed in the chest cavity. You will be under general anesthesia (asleep) during this part of the procedure, regardless of when it takes place.

Immediately following your surgery, you will first go to a recovery area, and then to your hospital room for your hospital stay. Your doctor will determine how long you will need to remain in the hospital.

Recovering from surgery

During the first 24 hours after your surgery:

  • Your medical team will monitor you closely for any sign of complications
  • You will probably be able to eat a meal, get up and move around
  • Your doctor will provide medication to help control any surgical pain or headache
  • You may experience exhaustion and some mild confusion after surgery; this is usually only temporary and generally subsides within 24 to 48 hours

During the first few weeks after your procedure, allow yourself time to relax and heal. Your individual recovery time will vary depending on your body and your exact surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about what to expect during your recovery.

Turning on and programming your system

Your doctor will decide when to turn on your IPG, based on what is right for you and your recovery. Most doctors wait up to several weeks after the implant surgery.

You and your doctor will work together to determine the customized combination of stimulation and medication that will work best for you. Do not be discouraged if you do not see immediate results; this does not mean that your surgery was not successful. Continue to work together, making sure to discuss your expectations, concerns and questions with your doctor.

Learn more about the benefits and risks of DBS therapy and important safety information for the St. Jude Medical Infinity™ DBS system.