Complication risk of deep brain stimulation similar for older, younger Parkinson patients

August 25, 2014

Bottom Line: Older patients with Parkinson disease (PD) who undergo deep brain stimulation (DBS) appear to have a 90-day complication risk similar to younger patients, suggesting that age alone should not be a primary factor for excluding patients as DBS candidates.

Author: Michael R. DeLong, B.A., of the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., and colleagues.

Background: For patients with advanced PD who have involuntary movements, DBS has been found to be an effective treatment for reducing motor disability and improving quality of life. Recent studies suggest that DBS plus medical therapy is better than medical therapy alone for patients with PD and early motor complications. Most clinical studies have excluded patients older than 75 years of age, although no specific age cutoff has been set.

How the Study was Conducted: The authors analyzed data from 1,757 patients who underwent DBS for PD from 2000 to 2009. The average age of the patients was 61 years; 582 patients (33.1 percent) were 65 years or older and 123 patients (7 percent) were 75 years or older.

Results: Of the 1,757 patients, 132 (7.5 percent) had at least one complication within 90 days, including wound infections (3.6 percent), pneumonia (2.3 percent), hemorrhage or hematoma (1.4 percent) or pulmonary embolism (0.6 percent). Increasing age (from younger than 50 to 90 years) did not significantly impact overall 90-day complication rates.

Discussion: "This suggests a possible expansion of the therapeutic window traditionally considered for DBS candidates, or at least the removal of age as a rigid exclusion criterion."
(JAMA Neurol. Published online August 25, 2014. doi:10.1001/.jamaneurol.2014.1272. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor's Note: Authors made conflict of interest disclosures. Funding/support came from a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media Advisory: To contact corresponding author Shivanand P. Lad, M.D., Ph.D., call Sarah Avery at 919-660-1306 or email An author podcast will be available when the embargo lifts on the JAMA Neurology website:

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