Introduction: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been an established surgical procedure in the field of functional neurosurgery for many years. The experimental electrophysiological method of local field potential (LFP) recordings in postsurgically externalized patients has made substantial contributions to the better understanding of pathophysiologies underlying movement disorders. As interest in LFP recordings for the development of improved stimulation strategies increases, this study’s aim was to provide evidence concerning safety of this research method, in a major DBS center.
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed incidence and infection characteristics in adult patients who underwent two-staged DBS surgery with temporary externalization of leads in our center between January 2008 and November 2019. We focused on whether patients had participated in LFP recordings, and evaluated incidence of infections at 3 months and 1 year after the surgery based on medical records. Infection rates were compared to major DBS studies and reports focusing on the risk of infection due to externalization of DBS leads. Results were visualized using descriptive statistics.
Results: Between January 2008 and November 2019, DBS surgery was performed in 528 patients (389/139 patients in the LFP/non-LFP group), mainly for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (308), dystonia (93), and essential tremor (86). Of the patients, 72.9% participated in LFP recordings. The incidence of infections in the acute postsurgical phase (3 months) was 2.46% and did not differ significantly between the LFP group (1.8%) and the non-LFP group (4.32%). The overall incidence after 1 year amounted to 3.6% (19 patients) with no difference between LFP/non-LFP groups. Incidence rates reported in the literature show a large variety (2.6-10%), and the incidence reported here is within the lower range of reported incidences.
Discussion/conclusion: This study demonstrates that DBS is a surgical procedure with a low risk of infection in a large patient cohort. Importantly, it shows that LFP recordings do not have a significant effect on the incidence of infections in patients with externalization. With a representative cohort of more than 380 patients participating in LFP-recordings, this underlines LFP as a safe method in research and supports further use of this method, for example, for the development of adaptive stimulation protocols.