Objective. To analyse the occurrence of hardware-related complications in patients with deep brain stimulation (DBS), over a long period of time.
Method. All patients operated on with DBS at our institution between 1993 and 2002 were followed with respect to adverse events related to the implanted hardware.
Results. One hundred and nineteen consecutive patients underwent 139 procedures with implantation of 161 electrodes. The minimum follow-up was 12 months. The follow-up time was 540 electrode-years. The rate of hardware-related complications per electrode-year was 4.3%. In total, 17 patients (15%) had 23 hardware-related complications. These included 8 electrode breakages, 4 electrode migrations, 2 stimulator migrations, 3 erosions, 2 erosions and infections, 2 infections and 2 cases of stimulator malfunction. The majority of these complications occurred during the first four years in our experience.
Conclusions. DBS is a life-long therapy that requires a life-long follow-up. Increased experience and adaptation of surgical technique are the main determinants for avoidance of hardware-related complications.
Keywords: Deep brain stimulation; stereotactic surgery; complications.