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The safety issues and hardware-related complications of deep brain stimulation therapy: a single-center retrospective analysis of 478 patients with Parkinson’s disease

Authors Zhang J, Wang T, Zhang C, Zeljic K, Zhan S, Sun B, Li D

Received 22 December 2016

Accepted for publication 10 April 2017

Published 8 June 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 923—928

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S130882

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Wu


Jing Zhang,1,* Tao Wang,1,* Chen-cheng Zhang,1 Kristina Zeljic,2 Shikun Zhan,1 Bo-min Sun,1 Dian-you Li1

1Department of Functional Neurosurgery, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, 2Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Introduction: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established therapy for the treatment of advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD) in patients experiencing motor fluctuations and medication-refractory tremor. Despite the relative tolerability and safety of this procedure, associated complications and unnatural deaths are still unavoidable.
Methods: In this study, hardware-related complications and the causes of unnatural death were retrospectively analyzed in 478 patients with PD who were treated with DBS.
Results: The results showed a 3-year survival rate of 98.6% and a 5-year survival rate of 96.4% for patients with PD who underwent DBS treatment at the study center. Pneumonia was the cause of death with the highest frequency. Prophylactic antibiotics and steroids or antihistamine drugs were adopted to reduce the risk of infection. Twenty-two patients (4.6%) experienced hardware-related complications.
Conclusion: Deaths of PD patients who receive DBS are typically unrelated to the disease itself or complications associated with the surgery. Pneumonia, malignant tumors, asphyxia, and multiple-organ failure are the common causes of death. Swallowing-related problems may be the most important clinical symptom in late-stage PD, as they cannot be stabilized or improved by DBS alone, and are potentially lethal. Although prophylactic antibiotics and steroids or antihistamine drugs may reduce the risk of infection, it is imperative to identify high-risk patients for whom a therapeutic approach not requiring an implantable device is more suitable, for example, pallidotomy and potentially transcranial ultrasound.

Keywords: motor fluctuations, tolerability, death, survival, antibiotics, steroids

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