A narrative review of ablative neurosurgery in refractory mental disorders
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Whitehead, T., & Barrera, A. (2022). A narrative review of ablative neurosurgery in refractory mental disorders. BJPsych Advances, 1-7.
Neurosurgery for mental disorder (NMD) is currently performed in the UK for cases of severe depressive disorder and obsessive–compulsive disorder refractory to treatment, under stringent regulations as set out under the Mental Health Act 1983. These surgical procedures appear to be effective for a proportion of individuals in this particularly treatment-resistant cohort. The two ablative procedures currently in use in the UK are anterior cingulotomy (ACING) and anterior capsulotomy (ACAPS). After briefly outlining these procedures, their evidence base and how they compare with other neurosurgical procedures, we suggest two ways in which they could be enhanced in terms of precision, namely the use of stereotactic (Gamma Knife®) radiosurgery guided by magnetic resonance imaging as well as a detailed and expanded standardised psychopathological and neuropsychological assessment both before and after surgery. The latter should involve extended long-term follow-up. We then reflect on how such psychopathological and neuropsychological assessments could help to understand why and how these procedures relieve patients’ suffering and distress.
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