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DBS implantation

What does the surgery involve?  

The implant procedure for a DBS system requires a short stay in hospital. The surgery usually lasts no longer than 8 hours and is done under general anaesthetic. 

The physiotherapists will assess the child's range of movement whilst they are under general anaesthetic to get a true picture of any contractures or limited range of movement. This is important as these will not be improved with DBS and there should be considered for additional orthopaedic surgery.

The DBS device is placed in the upper part of the chest or abdomen. There will be two wound sites - one on the scalp and one on the upper chest/abdomen.  Each wound will have a dressing covering the stitches. Bruising around the wounds post operatively is normal. 

The child will go home after the neurosurgeons are happy, they have been reviewed by the physiotherapists and they have made a good recovery from the anaesthetic. Discharge is usually approximately a few days after admission but can be longer.

Are there any post op recommendations?  

After surgery the child will experience some discomfort and tenderness around the wound site. These should not require any special care; however the surgeons may prescribe a course of antibiotics to prevent any infections. 

The team should be notified of any redness, swelling or soreness at the site of the wounds. Headaches may also be experienced during the first week after surgery. These can be relieved by using painkillers but if they persist despite taking pain relief, it is recommended to contact a member of the DBS team.

Activities should be restricted for a few weeks after surgery until the device has time to settle. We are always available for telephone or email advice following discharge.

Security and Device Precautions

The DBS system is a pacemaker-like device, it may interact with other devices that generate electromagnetic energy or have strong magnetism. These may include electrical equipment such as welding machinery, microwave transmitters and power amplifiers, or household appliances that contain magnets such as refrigerators, stereo speakers or power tools.

At the airport        

Airport security/screening devices such as theft detectors - for example those use at entrances and exits of shops, libraries and other public buildings, as well as airport security /screening may cause uncomfortable increases in stimulation and may turn the stimulator off by accident.


  • Such devices should be bypassed if possible or pass as far from the device as able.
  • Security officers should carry out a manual search if one is required.
  • A hand held security wand may be used but thismust notbe placed over the neurostimulator.


The following devices should not be used:

  • Diathermy treatment (use of high frequency electric current to produce heat).
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unless specifically approved by the system provided.
  • Any therapy directed at the site of the implantation including ultrasound, electrolysis, radiotherapy, electro surgery and electromagnetism.
  • Radiography that compresses the implantation area (other radiographies are permitted).
  • Ultrasound for dental cleaning
  • Cardiac defibrillation


  • Any medical treatment in which an electrical current will pass through the body from an external source must be used with caution.
  • If a local anaesthetic is required for any reason; adrenalin should be administered beforehand.
  • People with DBS devices need prophylactic antibiotics for minor procedures (such as dental work). The DBS may activate metal detector alarms.
  • It is recommended you carry your patient ID card at all times.