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Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the technique of neurostimulation of deep brain structures for the treatment of conditions such as essential tremor, dystonia, Parkinson's disease and chronic pain syndromes. The procedure uses implanted deep brain stimulation electrodes connected to extension leads and an implantable pulse generator (IPG). Hardware failure related to the DBS procedure is not infrequent, and includes electrode migration and disconnection. We describe a patient who received bilateral globus pallidus internus DBS for dystonia with initially good clinical response, but the device eventually failed. Radiographs showed multiple twisting of the extension leads with disconnection from the brain electrodes and a diagnosis of Twiddler's syndrome was made. Twiddler's syndrome was first described in patients with cardiac pacemakers. Patients with mental disability, elderly and obese patients are at increased risk. Twiddler's syndrome should be suspected whenever there is a failure of the DBS device to relieve symptoms previously responsive to stimulation. Surgical correction is usually required.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Neurosci

Publication Date





970 - 972


Aged, Deep Brain Stimulation, Dystonia, Electrodes, Implanted, Equipment Failure, Female, Humans, Reoperation, Syndrome