Prospective Assessment of Stereotactic Ablative Surgery for Intractable Major Depression

Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02129, USA.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 06/2008; 64(6):449-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.04.009
Source: PubMed


Despite therapeutic advances for major depression, a subset of patients with this disorder does not respond to conventional treatment. Stereotactic ablative procedures such as anterior cingulotomy have been performed in severely affected, treatment-resistant patients, but the long-term results of such procedures are not fully understood.
Findings are reported for 33 patients with severe treatment-resistant major depression who underwent ablative stereotactic procedures (dorsal anterior cingulotomy followed if necessary by subcaudate tractotomy). Preoperative and long-term postoperative Beck Depression Inventory scores were obtained along with postoperative Clinical Global Improvement values. Both were analyzed to evaluate patients' responses to the surgical procedure(s).
At mean follow-up of 30 months after one or more stereotactic ablative procedures, 11 patients (33.3%) were classified as responders, 14 (42.4%) were partial responders, and 8 (24.2%) did not respond to the surgical procedure(s). Among those (17) who underwent only one procedure, seven (41.2%) responded, whereas six (35.3%) and four (23.5%) showed partial or no response, respectively. Among patients who required multiple surgical procedures, four patients (25%) responded, whereas eight (50%) and four (25%) patients demonstrated partial or no responses, respectively, at long-term follow-up evaluations.
Approximately 75% of depression patients previously resistant to antidepressant therapies received partial or substantial benefit from stereotactic ablative procedures. Those requiring only a single anterior cingulotomy tended to demonstrate more pronounced responses than patients who underwent multiple surgical procedures.

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