Total Pageviews

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Track Your DBS Generator Battery Life Using the Programmer

The Medtronic DBS generator in my chest has a battery life span that varies depending on my individual settings. The higher the settings needed to control your Parkinson's symptoms, the shorter the life span. My battery is over four years old and still doing good. Others I know had to have theirs replaced after two years. Many don't realize you can check the battery life using your patient programmer.

It is a very simple process. All it takes is a few clicks and I will show you the steps below. I will use the word GENERATOR when I am talking about the surgically placed unit in my chest that delivers the therapy to my brain. 

This is my DBS programmer. It has a small white button on the bottom right side that turns the programmer on and off. There is also a larger white button at the top left that is used to turn the generator on or off. I will be using the ORANGE button with the check mark on it for this tutorial.

Place the programmer, or the attached antennae on top of your generator and press the orange button. When I do it, this is what my screen looks like.

Now, see the box outline around the center line where it says OK? The OK means that my generator battery is OK. But what if I want to know how much life is left? I use the arrow buttons on the bottom of the programmer and push the right arrow once. This is what my screen looks like after.

It says OK and 2.89 V. 

When my generator was brand new, my reading was 3.20 V. A year ago, it was 2.98 V. In January, it was 2.91 V. When it gets down to 2.61 V, I will get an ERI message warning me it's time to contact my doctor to schedule surgery to replace the generator.

Sometimes the outline is around the top line. 

This line tells me the generator is ON. If I use the arrows and move it to the right, it will display the programmer batteries. The AAA batteries in the patient programmer. 

It says Low and 25%. So I need to put new AAA batteries in my programmer. PS I use rechargeable ones.

You can use the up & down arrows at the bottom of the programmer to move the outline box on the screen. 

I check my generator battery once a month. That way, I can see how quickly it is discharging. In my case, I should be good for at least another year. 

An easy way to remember is....generator life is always displayed as V and programmer batteries as percentages.

PS This tutorial is for the Medtronic DBS non-rechargeable generator.


  1. So glad to see you posting again! I hope all is well with you. It was worrisome that you hadn't posted in such a long time.

  2. We missed you! Hope life is still stress free!

  3. I have cervical dystonia, and have a bilateral DBS to control the pain. Your blog entry above explains very clearly and accurately how to track my DBS generator’s battery life. Before reading your blog, I looked in my Medtronic booklet but was unable to find this information. So thanks so much for your help.

  4. Hi my dad has a dBs and it has come up with the eri message and says 2.59v we are waiting for the hospital to call us regarding changing the battery. How long will it last before it is out of battery we are pretty worried

  5. I had my surgery done at Sree Chitra Institute of Neurology, Trivandrum, India and had a battery replacement at Kovai Medical Center, Coimbatore, in 2017. The next battery replacement will be due early 2022. I am in the USA now and is a resident of USA. Can you tell me the price of the latest battery (non-rechargable) and also the best hospital in POrtlant, Oregon, where I have settled.

    1. I have no idea what the cost would be if you don't have insurance to cover it. I suggest you contact the manufacturer's patient support number. I would check with a Portland area support group to see which hospitals they recommend.