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Deep Brain Stimulation Post-Operative Care

The DBS team will review and provide patients with detailed discharge instructions upon leaving the hospital after the surgery.

The deep brain stimulator system will be turned on approximately two weeks after surgery during a routine clinic visit for suture removal. Testing all electrodes for efficacy and side effects; or "mapping," occurs one month after surgery.

Patients will continue to take medications as they did prior to the surgery, unless troubling side effects are experienced. Medications to treat the movement disorder may need to be adjusted as necessary as the stimulation is maximized.

Additional visits to program the stimulator may be necessary for the first three months after the surgery. Once stimulation is maximized, these visits tend to occur less frequently, typically only once or twice per year. The first two programming visits will need to be with Dr. Holloway. Jessica Utt, PA-C or Dr. Jonathan Snider will perform subsequent programming along with your general movement disorder care. Patients should check to see if DBS programming services are offered by their neurologist's office.

Many of the movement disorders are progressive, which means the symptoms get worse over time. During these visits the DBS stimulator is adjusted to control the progression of symptoms. In addition, the status of the battery is evaluated so that battery replacement can be scheduled before it becomes fully depleted.


DBS programming tools

Deep brain stimulator and programming tools

Battery replacement

Deep brain stimulator batteries last for three to five years, depending on the settings. The replacement of the battery is done on an outpatient basis and is performed with local anesthetic with the option of intravenous (IV) sedation. The actual surgery to replace the battery lasts about 20 minutes and the risks involved are damage to or infection of the system.

Post-operative limitations

Following DBS surgery, patients are limited in the types of medical procedures that can be performed.

Patients cannot undergo:

  • Routine MRI testing procedures.
    • Newer DBS systems are MRI conditional which means that under certain circumstances, MRIs can be done on any part of the body. The VCU radiology department is well equipped to determine your eligibility.
  • Diathermy or therapeutic ultrasound.
    • Diagnostic ultrasound is safe.

If patients undergo any surgery, only bipolar cautery may be used. Monopolar cautery, using a Bovie, is contraindicated. If skin cancer surgery is required within three inches of any of the DBS components (battery, extensions, leads) a DBS-surgeon should be involved in the case.

Please contact the DBS team if you have any questions (804)364-6519.

For additional information about contraindications, pelase call the Medtronic Technical Support Hotline at (800) 707-0933.

Make an Appointment

Please call (804) 360-4NOW (4669) to schedule an appointment.