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Zhengyu Lin, Chencheng Zhang, Yingying Zhang, Lulin Dai, Valerie Voon, Dianyou Li, and Bomin Sun


The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has considerably affected the delivery of postoperative care to patients who have undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. DBS teleprogramming technology was developed and deployed in China before the COVID-19 outbreak. In this report, the authors share their experiences with telemedical DBS treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Four patients (2 with obsessive-compulsive disorder, 1 with major depressive disorder, and 1 with anorexia nervosa) underwent DBS surgery at Ruijin Hospital and received continuous postoperative DBS telemedicine case management from January 2020 to July 2020. DBS teleprogramming, individualized psychological support, and medical consultations were provided via the authors’ DBS telemedicine platform, which also incorporated a synchronous real-time video communication system.


Forty-five DBS telemedicine sessions were conducted; there was no unexpected loss of network connection during the sessions. Of these, 28 sessions involved DBS teleprogramming. Adjustments were made to the stimulation voltage, frequency, pulse width, and contact site in 21, 12, 9, and 9 sessions, respectively. Psychological support and troubleshooting were provided during the remaining telemedicine sessions. Modest to substantial clinical improvements after DBS surgery were observed in some but not all patients, whereas stimulation-related side effects were reported by 2 patients and included reversible sleep and mood problems, headache, and a sensation of heat.


DBS telemedicine seems to offer a feasible, safe, and efficient strategy for maintaining the delivery of medical care to psychiatric patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. The authors propose that implementation of a comprehensive DBS telemedicine system, which combines DBS teleprogramming with psychological counseling, medical consultations, and medication prescriptions and delivery, could be an efficient and effective approach to manage the mental health and quality of life of patients with psychiatric disorders during future local or global public health crises.

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Valerie Voon, Jean Saint-Cyr, Andres M. Lozano, Elena Moro, Yu Yan Poon, and Anthony E. Lang

Object. Postoperative psychiatric symptoms have been associated with subthalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson disease (PD), and preoperative psychiatric vulnerability, the effects of surgery, stimulation, medication changes, and psychosocial adjustment have been proposed as causative factors. The variables involved in whether preoperative psychiatric symptoms improve or worsen following surgery are not yet known. In the present study, preoperative psychiatric symptoms were systematically assessed in patients with PD presenting for routine preoperative psychiatric assessment.

Methods. Forty consecutive patients with PD presenting for DBS were interviewed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Current depressive symptoms were quantified using clinician- and patient-rated depression scales. Seventy-eight percent of patients had at least one lifetime or current Axis I psychiatric diagnosis. The prevalence of depression was 60% (95% confidence interval [CI] 45–85), psychosis 35% (95% CI 25–50), and anxiety 40% (95% CI 25–55). These prevalence rates were comparable to or greater than those in the general population of patients with PD. Twenty-three percent of patients required psychiatric treatment for current symptoms prior to being considered eligible for DBS.

Conclusions. As part of the selection process for surgery, members of the study population were chosen for their lack of overt dementia or other active disabling psychiatric symptomatology. The incidence rates of psychiatric disorders, including those diseases occurring in the general population affected with PD, were greater than expected. Data in the present study lead one to question the reliability of patient-rated depression scales as the sole instrument for assessing depression. The authors highlight the need for evidence-based guidelines in the management of these preoperative symptoms as well as the involvement of psychiatric personnel in the assessment and management of these symptoms.