Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Short report
Increased apathy post-interstitial laser capsulotomy for refractory obsessive–compulsive disorder
  1. Hannah A Hagy1,
  2. Maureen Lacy1,
  3. Nataliya Turchmanovych-Hienkel1,
  4. Jon E Grant1,
  5. Daniel Biro2,
  6. Peter C Warnke2
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2Department of Neurological Surgery, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Hannah A Hagy, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA; hannah.m.alves{at}; Dr Maureen Lacy, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA; mlacy{at}


Background MRI guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (M-LITT) capsulotomy has proven to be efficacious in decreasing refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) related symptomatology yet capsulotomy either via radiosurgery or radiofrequency ablation has in some patients led to increased apathy following surgery. The current case series aims to investigate objective patient-reported change in apathy, disinhibition, depression, and executive dysfunction following anterior capsulotomy via M-LITT for OCD.

Methods Ten consecutive patients pre- and post-M-LITT completed measures of OCD, apathy, disinhibition, executive dysfunction, and depression (Mtime between = 1.3 years; 0.42-3.7 years). Reliable Change Index (RCI) was used to evaluate change in pre- and post-M-LITT. OCD symptom response was evaluated using percent change (Y-BOCS scores: 24-34 % reduction indicating partial response; ≥35% reduction indicating full response).

Results Positive post-surgical change was noted in OCD symptomatology with >65% reporting a partial or full response. However, six patients endorsed increased apathy with half of the non-responders (e.g., less than <24% score reduction on Y-BOCS) reporting increases in apathy. Patients reported relatively stable disinhibition and executive dysfunction, while over half reported a decrease in depression symptoms. Two of the non-responders and one responder endorsed increased apathy despite stable or improved depression symptoms, disinhibition, and executive dysfunction.

Conclusions Most patients in the current cohort achieved full-or-partial OCD recovery. Yet, 60% of patients also reported significant increases in apathy, despite experiencing a decrease in depression symptoms, with stable disinhibition and executive dysfunction. Despite these promising improvements in OCD symptomatology following M-LITT, further investigations of the impact of surgery and lesion location on apathy levels is clearly warranted using objective, quantifiable methods.


Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors Conception or design of the work, critical revision of the article and final approval of the version to be published: all authors. Data collection: HH, ML, DB, JEG and PW. Data analysis and interpretation: HH and ML. Drafting the article: HH, NT-H and ML.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.