Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has revolutionized the treatment of neurological disease, but its therapeutic efficacy is limited by the lifetime of the implantable pulse generator (IPG) batteries. At the end of the battery life, IPG replacement surgery is required. New IPGs with rechargeable batteries (RC-IPGs) have recently been introduced and allow for decreased reoperation rates for IPG replacements. The authors aimed to examine the merits and limitations of these devices.
The authors reviewed the medical records of patients who underwent DBS implantation at their institution. RC-IPGs were placed either during initial DBS implantation or during an IPG change. A cost analysis was performed that compared RC-IPGs with standard IPGs, and telephone patient surveys were conducted to assess patient satisfaction.
The authors identified 206 consecutive patients from 2011 to 2016 who underwent RC-IPG placement (mean age 61 years; 67 women, 33%). Parkinson’s disease was the most common indication for DBS (n = 144, 70%), followed by essential tremor (n = 41, 20%), dystonia (n = 13, 6%), depression (n = 5, 2%), multiple sclerosis tremor (n = 2, 1%), and epilepsy (n = 1, 0.5%). DBS leads were typically placed bilaterally (n = 192, 93%) and targeted the subthalamic nucleus (n = 136, 66%), ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus (n = 43, 21%), internal globus pallidus (n = 21, 10%), ventral striatum (n = 5, 2%), or anterior nucleus of the thalamus (n = 1, 0.5%). RC-IPGs were inserted at initial DBS implantation in 123 patients (60%), while 83 patients (40%) were converted to RC-IPGs during an IPG replacement surgery. The authors found that RC-IPG implantation resulted in $60,900 of cost savings over the course of 9 years. Furthermore, patient satisfaction was high with RC-IPG implantation. Overall, 87.3% of patients who responded to the survey were satisfied with their device, and only 6.7% found the rechargeable component difficult to use. In patients who were switched from a standard IPG to RC-IPG, the majority who responded (70.3%) preferred the rechargeable IPG.
RC-IPGs can provide DBS patients with long-term therapeutic benefit while minimizing the need for battery replacement surgery. The authors have implanted rechargeable stimulators in 206 patients undergoing DBS surgery, and here they demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and high patient satisfaction associated with this procedure.