A cohort study of psychosurgery cases from a defined population.
All cases from an urban population treated by psychosurgery over a 20 year period were followed up; 44 out of 47 were available for study, and 33 of these were interviewed. Outcome was measured on a five-point scale, and follow-up was from 1 to 20 years, with a mean of 11; almost all patients previously had had severe, disabling and intractable illnesses. Operations were non-stereotactic (36), stereotactic (6), with double procedures in one case: outcome was better in the non-stereotactic group. On a five-point scale of outcome, 25 of the 33 interviewed patients were placed in the two best categories, as were eight patients of the 11 who were assessed by case records. Adverse effects were reported in 14 cases, but most were not serious. Only one death could definitely be related to operation. Depression, agoraphobia, obsessional neurosis, and certain aspects of schizophrenia all responded well in the majority of cases. Leucotomy should remain available as a treatment of last resort for some intractable psychiatric disorders.