May 1995

Cingulotomy for Intractable Obsessive-compulsive DisorderProspective Long-term Follow-up of 18 Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Baer, Rauch, Cassem, and Jenike and Mr Manzo) and Neurosurgery (Drs Ballantine and Cosgrove and Ms Giriunas), Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Harvard Medical School (Drs Baer, Rauch, Ballantine, Cosgrove, Cassem, Dimino, and Jenike), and McLean Hospital (Dr Dimino), Boston, Mass; and Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC (Dr Martuza).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(5):384-392. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950170058008

Background:  The purpose of this study was to assess prospectively long-term change in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in patients with an OCD diagnosis that was confirmed by structured interview and with documented unsuccessful trials of multiple medications and attempts at behavior therapy.

Methods:  We conducted an unblinded preoperative and follow-up assessment of comorbid diagnosis; OCD, depressive, and anxiety symptoms; and functional status in 18 patients who underwent cingulotomy.

Results:  At a mean follow-up of 26.8 months, five patients (28%) met conservative criteria for treatment responders, and three others (17%) were partial responders. The group improved significantly in mean functional status, and few serious adverse events were found. Improvement in OCD symptoms was strongly correlated with improvement in depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Conclusions:  The rate of clinical improvement was consistent with a previous retrospective study in the same setting, indicating that 25% to 30% of the patients who previously were unresponsive to medication and behavioral treatments are significantly improved after cingulotomy. Cingulotomy remains a last resort treatment for severely incapacitated patients who have not responded to all other state-of-the-art pharmacological and behavioral treatments for OCD and is not to be taken lightly.