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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2013;117:47-51. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-1482-7_8.

Psychiatric side-effects of bilateral deep brain stimulation for movement disorders.

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  • 1Division of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Department of General Neurosurgery, Neurosurgical Clinic, University Medical Center Freiburg, Breisacher Stra├če 64, Freiburg, D-79106, Germany,



The effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on cognitive functions, and its psychiatric side-effects, are still controversial. The present study investigated psychiatric comorbidity and postoperative effects of DBS of different targets on mood and psychological functions in 81 patients with a mean follow-up of 37 months.


A total of 109 patients underwent implantation of DBS electrodes between 2001 and 2006; it was possible to evaluate 81 patients by a psychiatric test battery using the "Neuropsychiatric Inventory". To evaluate the possible influence of the target, we analyzed the data without 16 patients with DBS surgery for other diseases (e.g., epilepsia, cluster headache) or unilateral implantation only. The resulting population (n = 65, mean age 61 years, range 23-78 years, male:female 42:23) consisted of 43 Parkinson's disease patients stimulated in the subthalamic nucleus, ten dystonia patients stimulated in the globus pallidus internus, and 12 tremor patients in the ventral intermediate nucleus.


There was a high rate of preoperative psychiatric comorbidity, which is reflected by a high rate of patients with preoperative medication of neuroleptic drugs (18.4 %, especially clozapin 14.7 %) and antidepressive drugs (16.5 %). Depression was the most common psychiatric side-effect after DBS, occurring in 47.7 % of all patients (31/65 patients), without significant preference to a specific target (STN: 42 %, Gpi: 60 %, VIM: 58 %). Delusion (n = 5 out of 43 PD patients, 11.6 %), euphoria (n = 1, 2.3 %) and disinhibition (n = 3, 7.0 %) were seen in the PD patients only.


A wide range of behavioural changes may be seen following DBS. Depression was the most common side-effect after DBS, and occurred independently of the target. PD patients, in contrast to dystonia and tremor patients, developed complications in all tested subgroups, with varying frequencies. Preoperative evaluation for psychiatric and cognitive dysfunction is crucial to identify patients who are at specific risk for psychiatric complications.

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