Benefits and Risks – DBS Therapy

Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD) can treat some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.1 DBS does not cure the underlying condition. If the therapy is discontinued, your symptoms will return.


DBS has been proven to reduce some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.1

Medtronic DBS Therapy is currently approved to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia.* Since 1997, more than 50,000 patients worldwide have benefited from Medtronic DBS Therapy.2

Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy is:

  • Effective – The Medtronic DBS System delivers stimulation to targeted areas in the brain. In the PD clinical study, 87% of patients demonstrated improved motor scores in the OFF medication state at the end of the 12 month evaluation.2
  • Adjustable – Stimulation parameters can be set by your clinician to meet your specific needs.
  • Reversible – Unlike other surgical treatments, DBS Therapy does not involve the removal of any part of your brain. The Medtronic DBS system may be turned off or removed.


Risks of DBS Therapy can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Implanting the neurostimulator system carries the same risks associated with any other brain surgery.

Your doctor can provide more information about these and other potential risks and side effects. Many side effects related to stimulation can be managed by adjusting the stimulation settings. Several follow-up visits may be needed to find the best stimulation settings.

Risks of surgery may include:

  • Paralysis, coma, and/or death
  • Bleeding inside the brain (intracranial hemorrhage)
  • Leakage of fluid surrounding the brain
  • Seizures 
  • Infection
  • Allergic response to implanted materials
  • Temporary or permanent neurological complications
  • Confusion or attention problems
  • Pain at the surgery sites
  • Headache

Side Effects

Possible side effects of brain stimulation may include:

  • Tingling sensation (paresthesia)
  • Temporary worsening of symptoms
  • Speech problems like whispering (dysarthria), and trouble forming words (dysphasia)
  • Vision problems (double vision)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness (disequilibrium)
  • Facial and limb muscle weakness or partial paralysis (paresis)
  • Abnormal, involuntary movements (chorea, dystonia, dyskinesia)
  • Movement problems or reduced coordination
  • Jolting or shocking sensation
  • Numbness (hypoesthesia)

Device Complications

Possible device complications include:

  • Pain, lack of healing, or infection where the Medtronic DBS System parts are implanted
  • Infection or scarring caused by the system parts wearing through your skin
  • Readjustment surgery if the lead or lead/extension connector moves, or if mechanical or electrical problems occur
  • An allergic reaction to or rejection of the system by your body
  • Tissue damage resulting from programming parameters or a malfunction of one of the parts of the system

*Humanitarian Device: The effectiveness of this device for the treatment of dystonia has not been established.


  1. Activa Therapy Clinical Summary, 2003
  2. Data on File at Medtronic, Inc.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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