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Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2011;51(11):749-55.

Complications of subthalamic nucleus stimulation in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medicine, Aichi.


Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) is effective for medically refractory Parkinson's disease. We retrospectively analyzed complications in 180 consecutive patients who underwent bilateral STN-DBS. Surgery-related complications were symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage in 2, chronic subdural hematoma in 1, and transient deterioration of medication-induced psychosis in 2 patients. Device-related complications involved device infection in 5, skin erosion in 5, and implantable pulse generator malfunction in 2 patients. All of these patients required surgical repair. Surgery and device-related complications could be reduced with increased surgical experience and the introduction of new surgical equipment and technology. Treatment or stimulation-related complications were intractable dyskinesia/dystonia in 11, problematic dysarthria in 7, apraxia of eyelid opening (ALO) in 11, back pain in 10, and restless leg syndrome in 6 patients. Neuropsychiatric complications were transient mood changes in some, impulse control disorder in 2, severe depression related to excessive reduction of dopaminergic medications in 2, rapid progression of dementia in 1, and suicide attempts in 2 patients. Most complications were mild and transient. Dysarthria and ALO were the most frequent permanent sequelae after STN-DBS. Treatment-related adverse events may be caused not only by the effect of stimulation effect but also excessive reduction of dopaminergic medication, or progression of the disease. In conclusion, STN-DBS seems to be a relatively safe procedure. Although serious complications with permanent sequelae are rare, significant incidences of adverse effects occur. Physicians engaged in this treatment should have a comprehensive understanding of the probable complications and how to avoid them.

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