Safety of magnetic resonance imaging of deep brain stimulator systems: a serial imaging and clinical retrospective study

J Neurosurg 112:497–502, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2009.7.JNS09572

With the expanding indications and increasing number of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS), postoperative MR imaging is becoming even more important in guiding clinical care and practice-based learning; important safety concerns have recently emerged, however. Although phantom model studies have driven conservative recommendations regarding imaging parameters, highlighted by 2 recent reports describing adverse neurological events associated with MR imaging in patients with implanted DBS systems, the risks of MR imaging in such patients in clinical practice has not been well addressed. In this study, the authors capitalized on their large experience with serial MR imaging (3 times per patient) to use MR imaging itself and clinical outcomes to examine the safety of MR imaging in patients who underwent staged implantation of DBS electrodes for Parkinson disease, tremor, and dystonia.

Methods. Sixty-four patients underwent staged bilateral lead implantations between 1997 and 2006, and each patient underwent 3 separate MR imaging sessions subsequent to DBS placement. The first of these was performed after the first DBS placement, the second occurred prior to the second DBS placement, and third was after the second DBS placement. Follow-up was conducted to examine adverse events related either to MR imaging or to DBSinduced injury.

Results. One hundred and ninety-two MR images were obtained, and the mean follow-up time was 3.67 years. The average time between the first and second, and second and third MR imaging sessions was 19.4 months and 14.7 hours, respectively. Twenty-two MR imaging–detected new findings of hemorrhage were documented. However, all new findings were related to acute DBS insertion, whereas there were no new findings after imaging of the chronically implanted electrode.

Conclusions. Although potential risks of MR imaging in patients undergoing DBS may be linked to excessive heating, induced electrical currents, disruption of the normal operation of the device, and/or magnetic field interactions, MR imaging can be performed safely in these patients and provides useful information on DBS lead location to inform patient-specific programming and practice-based learning