Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a unique, functional neurosurgical therapy indicated for medication refractory movement disorders as well as some psychiatric diseases. Multicontact electrodes are placed in “deep” structures within the brain with targets varying depending on the surgical indication. An implanted programmable pulse generator supplies the electrodes with a chronic, high frequency electrical current that clinically mimics the effects of ablative lesioning techniques. DBS’s efficacy has been well established for its movement disorder indications (Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia). However, clinical outcomes are sometimes suboptimal, even in the absence of common, potentially reversible complications such as hardware complications, infection, poor electrode placement, and poor programming parameters. This review highlights some of the rescue procedures that have been explored in suboptimal DBS cases for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. To date, the data is limited and difficult to generalize, but a large majority of published reports demonstrate positive results. The decision to proceed with such treatments should be made on a case by case basis. Larger studies are needed to clearly establish the benefit of rescue procedures and to establish for which patient populations they may be most appropriate.
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