Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an emerging treatment option for an expanding set of neurological and psychiatric diseases. Despite growing enthusiasm, the patterns and implications of this rapid adoption are largely unknown. National trends in DBS surgery performed for all indications between 2002 and 2011 are reported.
Using a national database of hospital discharges, admissions for DBS for 14 indications were identified and categorized as either FDA approved, humanitarian device exempt (HDE), or emerging. Trends over time were examined, differences were analyzed by univariate analyses, and outcomes were analyzed by hierarchical regression analyses.
Between 2002 and 2011, there were an estimated 30,490 discharges following DBS for approved indications, 1647 for HDE indications, and 2014 for emerging indications. The volume for HDE and emerging indications grew at 36.1% annually in comparison with 7.0% for approved indications. DBS for emerging indications occurred at hospitals with more neurosurgeons and neurologists locally, but not necessarily at those with the highest DBS caseloads. Patients treated for HDE and emerging indications were younger with lower comorbidity scores. HDE and emerging indications were associated with greater rates of reported complications, longer lengths of stay, and greater total costs.
DBS for HDE and emerging indications underwent rapid growth in the last decade, and it is not exclusively the most experienced DBS practitioners leading the charge to treat the newest indications. Surgeons may be selecting younger and healthier patients for their early experiences. Differences in reported complication rates warrant further attention and additional costs should be anticipated as surgeons gain experience with new patient populations and targets.