Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established modality for the treatment of advanced Parkinson disease (PD). Recent studies have found DBS plus best medical therapy to be superior to best medical therapy alone for patients with PD and early motor complications. Although no specific age cutoff has been defined, most clinical studies have excluded patients older than 75 years of age. We hypothesize that increasing age would be associated with an increased number of postoperative complications.
To evaluate the stepwise effect of increasing age (in 5-year epochs) on short-term complications following DBS surgery.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A large, retrospective cohort study was performed using the Thomson Reuters MarketScan national database that examined 1757 patients who underwent DBS for PD during the period from 2000 to 2009.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Primary measures examined included hospital length of stay and aggregate and individual complications within 90 days following surgery. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to calculate complication-related odds ratios (ORs) for each 5-year age epoch after controlling for covariates.
Overall, 132 of 1757 patients (7.5%) experienced at least 1 complication within 90 days, including wound infections (3.6%), pneumonia (2.3%), hemorrhage or hematoma (1.4%), or pulmonary embolism (0.6%). After adjusting for covariates, we found that increasing age (ranging from <50 to 90 years of age) did not significantly affect overall 90-day complication rates (OR, 1.10 per 5-year increase [95% CI, 0.96-1.25]; P = .17). The 2 most common procedure-related complications, hemorrhage (OR, 0.82 [95% CI, 0.63-1.07]; P = .14) and infection (OR, 1.04 [95% CI, 0.87-1.24]; P = .69), did not significantly increase with age.
Conclusions and Relevance
Older patients with PD (>75 years) who were selected to undergo DBS surgery showed a similar 90-day complication risk (including postoperative hemorrhage or infection) compared with younger counterparts. Our findings suggest that age alone should not be a primary exclusion factor for determining candidacy for DBS. Instead, a clear focus on patients with medication-refractory and difficult to control on-off fluctuations with preserved cognition, regardless of age, may allow for an expansion of the traditional therapeutic window.