DBS can generate short and long-term “potential” complications. The DBS device is a “foreign body” in the brain and under the skin, so infection is a primary worry, and can occur in five percent or more of implanted patients. Also, during placement of the DBS electrodes, there could be bleeding, or alternatively, a stroke that may lead to weakness, numbness, changes in vision, and/or changes in speech.
The DBS device can fracture/break, migrate out of position, or malfunction requiring another surgical procedure to replace or reposition the electrode. DBS frequently affects speech, and particularly verbal fluency. There can be worsening of cognition or mood, and in rare cases associated suicidal thoughts, which is why patients must be carefully screened and followed.
A significant risk of a DBS procedure is failure to achieve the patient’s pre-operative expectations, and this is why it is absolutely critical that both patients and physicians have focused pre-operative discussions.