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Surgery for Psychiatric Disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2014


The modern therapeutic approach to most psychiatric diseases involves a combination of well-supervised psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy. Patients who fail to adequately respond to these modern treatment methods and remain severely disabled may be considered for surgical intervention. Cingulotomy, capsulotomy, subcaudate tractotomy, and limbic leucotomy are the most common psychosurgical procedures performed today, with response rates in the 35% to 65% range. Modern stereotactic techniques have reduced complication rates, but controversy remains regarding the optimal surgical procedure. The major psychiatric diagnostic categories that might respond to surgery include treatment-refractory major affective disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and chronic anxiety states. Surgery should be considered as one part of an entire treatment plan and must be followed by an appropriate psychiatric rehabilitation program. It should only be carried out by an expert multidisciplinary team consisting of a neurologist a neurosurgeon, and a psychiatrist with experience in these disorders. Surgical intervention remains a reasonable therapeutic option for select patients with a disabling psychiatric disease and may be underutilized.

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