Introduction: Infections related to deep brain stimulation (DBS) can lead to discontinuation of the treatment and increased morbidity. Various measures of reducing infection rates have been proposed in the literature, but scientific consensus is lacking. The aim of this study was to report a 26-year single center experience of DBS infections and provide recommendations for the prevention and management of them. Methods: The retrospective analysis consisted of 978 DBS surgeries performed at Oulu University Hospital (OUH) from 1997 to 2022. This included 342 primary or reimplantations of DBS electrodes and 559 primary or reimplantations of implantable pulse generator (IPG). Infections within approximately 1 year after the surgery without secondary cause were considered surgical-site infections (SSIs). χ2 test was used to compare infection rates before and after 2013, when the systematic implementation of infection prevention measures was started. Results: A total of 35 DBS implants were found to be infected. The number of SSIs was 30, of which 29 were originally operated in OUH leading to a center-specific infection rate of 3.1%. Of the SSIs, 17.2% occurred after IPG replacement. Staphylococcus aureus was found in 75.0% of cultures and 32.1% were mixed infections. The treatment of SSIs included aggressive surgical revision combined with cefuroxime and vancomycin antibiotics, as most patients in the initial conservative treatment group eventually required surgical revision. A statistically significant difference in infection rates before and after the implementation of preventative measures was not observed (risk ratio 2.20, 95% confidence interval 0.94–5.75, p = 0.051), despite over two-fold difference in the incidence of SSIs. Conclusion: Our findings show that the rates of surgical infections are low in modern DBS, but due to their serious consequences, preventative measures should be implemented. We highlight that mixed infections should be accounted for in the antibiotic selection. Furthermore, our treatment recommendation includes aggressive surgical revision combined with antibiotic treatment.

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