An Eye on the First Surgical Side: Appreciating the Potential Impacts of a Second DBS Lead on Ipsilateral Symptoms

Congratulations to Drs. Ariane Veilleux Carpentier, Joshua K. Wong and Michael S. Okun on the publication of “An Eye on the First Surgical Side: Appreciating the Potential Impacts of a Second DBS Lead on Ipsilateral Symptoms,” which appears in the recent issue of Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements.


Clinical Vignette: A 63-year-old man with severe essential tremor underwent staged bilateral ventralis intermedius (Vim) deep brain stimulation (DBS). Left Vim DBS resulted in improved right upper extremity tremor control. Months later, the addition of right Vim DBS to the other brain hemisphere was associated with acute worsening of the right upper extremity tremor.

Clinical Dilemma: In staged bilateral Vim DBS, second lead implantation may possibly alter ipsilateral tremor control. While ipsilateral improvement is common, rarely, it can disrupt previously achieved benefit.

Clinical Solution: DBS programming, including an increase in left Vim DBS amplitude, re-established and enhanced bilateral tremor control.

Gap in Knowledge: The mechanisms underlying changes in ipsilateral tremor control following a second lead implantation are unknown. In this case, worsening and subsequent improvement after optimization highlight the potential impact of DBS implantation on the ipsilateral side.

Expert Commentary: After staged bilateral Vim DBS, clinicians should keep an eye on the first or original DBS side and carefully monitor for emergent side effects or worsening in tremor. Ipsilateral effects resulting from DBS implantation present a reprogramming opportunity with a potential to further optimize clinical outcomes.


This case report highlights the potential for ipsilateral tremor worsening following staged bilateral DBS and provides valuable insights into troubleshooting and reprogramming strategies. The report emphasizes the importance of vigilant monitoring and individualized management in optimizing clinical outcomes for patients undergoing staged bilateral DBS for essential tremor.