Ethical Considerations in the Implantation of Neuromodulatory Devices

Nathan A. Shlobin*, Joshua M. Rosenow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: Neuromodulatory devices are increasingly used by neurosurgeons to manage a variety of chronic conditions. Given their potential benefits, it is imperative to create clear ethical guidelines for the use of these devices. We present a tiered ethical framework for neurosurgeon recommendations for the use of neuromodulatory devices. Materials and Methods: We conducted a literature review to identify factors neurosurgeons should consider when choosing to offer a neuromodulatory device to a patient. Results: Neurosurgeons must weigh reductions in debilitating symptoms, improved functionality, and preserved quality of life against risks for intraoperative complications and adverse events due to stimulation or the device itself. Neurosurgeons must also evaluate whether patients and families will maintain responsibility for the management of neuromodulatory devices. Consideration of these factors should occur on an axis of resource allocation, ranging from provision of neuromodulatory devices to those with greatest potential benefit in resource-limited settings to provision of neuromodulatory devices to all patients with indications in contexts without resource limitations. Neurosurgeons must also take action to promote device effectiveness throughout the duration of care. Conclusions: Weighing risks and benefits of providing neuromodulatory devices and assessing ability to remain responsible for the devices on the level of the individual patient indicate which patients are most likely to achieve benefit from these devices. Consideration of these factors on an axis of resource allocation will allow for optimal provision of neuromodulatory devices to patients in settings of varied resources. Neurosurgeons play a primary role in promoting the effectiveness of these devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • ethics
  • neuromodulation
  • neurostimulation
  • responsive neurostimulation
  • spinal cord stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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