Background and purpose Psychosurgery, such as anterior capsulotomy, is a therapeutic option for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this paper, we present a prospective, long-term follow-up study aimed at evaluating both the efficacy and the safety of anterior capsulotomy for the treatment of severe, refractory OCD.
Methods Twenty-four patients were surgically treated in our centre between 1997 and 2009, 19 of whom were included in this study. Patients were assessed at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months and last follow-up (mean of 7 years) was carried out by phone. OCD symptom severity was evaluated using the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). A patient with an improvement rate of over 35% in the Y-BOCS score was considered a responder, while a patient with a 25% improvement was considered a partial responder.
Results With a mean improvement of 31% in the Y-BOCS score at long-term follow-up, 36.8% of the patients responded fully to the procedure and 10.5% were considered partial responders, for an overall response rate of 47.3% of patients. At the end of the study, 3/19 patients had recovered (Y-BOCS score <8) and 3/19 were in remission (Y-BOCS score <16). No cases of mortality were reported and the overall adverse event rate was 57.9%. Only 2 patients had permanent surgical complications.
Conclusions Anterior capsulotomy is an effective and safe technique for the treatment of severe refractory OCD in patients who have no other alternative to improve their symptoms.