What to Expect with Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery?

Who is a candidate for surgery?

At the OHSU Brain Institute, DBS is used only for people whose movement disorder symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medications. DBS is not a cure for essential tremor (ET) or Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Referral for DBS surgery 

If you are a potential candidate for DBS surgery, you will be referred to us by your primary care doctor, neurologist or referring neurosurgeon. You will meet with a movement neurologist and neurosurgeon to evaluate if DBS surgery would be right for you.

Pre-operative evaluations

Neuropsychological testing

If you are a candidate for DBS surgery, you will undergo extensive neuropsychological testing and further tests. Your test results will then be discussed at your next appointment with the neurologist and neurosurgeon. 

Therapy evaluations

You will also meet with our physical and speech therapists when you are both on and off your medication. These evaluations will provide a starting point to measure your progress after surgery as well as help you and your family understand the potential risks of surgery. 

Developing a tailored treatment plan

Your medical history, neuropsychological testing results and laboratory results are reviewed by the DBS neurologist and neurosurgeon to determine the best DBS treatment plan for you.


Our surgeons perform DBS surgery at OHSU Hospital located on Marquam Hill in Portland, Oregon. Detailed instructions will be provided to you and your family in advance so that the day of surgery flows smoothly.  More information on surgery

Follow-up care

After surgery, you will return to OHSU for a routine post-operative check four weeks after DBS surgery.  The purpose of this visit is to ensure healing and to identify any potential problems that may interfere with your recovery. You will also have a programming appointment with the neurologist to adjust your DBS settings. You will see your neurologist once a month for three months to fine-tune the neurostimulator. Once this is complete, you will again meet with our physical and speech therapists as well as neuropsychological testing to evaluate your post-operative progress. 

You will continue regular follow up with your neurologist as you had prior to surgery. Further DBS adjustments are made as needed.