Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A brain procedure that has been used to treat Parkinson's disease patients since the 1980s also shows promise for patients with severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
To evaluate the usefulness of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of OCD, researchers selected sixteen patients with severe OCD and treated them with the procedure. After three months of active stimulation, seven out of 10 patients saw 25 percent of their symptoms disappear as measured by the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. In addition, six out of 10 patients reached satisfactory overall functioning, with only moderate discomfort caused by the illness.
In deep brain stimulation, two electrodes are implanted in the brain and connected to a simulator implanted under the skin. The simulator delivers an electric current that regulates abnormal signals sent out from the brain, acting like a pacemaker for the organ.
Deep brain stimulation has only been proposed as a therapy for patients with severe OCD who don't respond to normal treatment. One-third of OCD patients may fall into this category. Advantages of the procedure include the fact that it's reversible and allows for precise adjustment of the amount of stimulation.
Researcers caution the medical world to consider the risks of the procedure since serious complications occurred in 11 patients.
The occurrence of severe adverse events, the small number of patients and the short duration of the study highlight the risks of stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus and the need for larger studies with longer follow-up, study authors wrote.