Butler Hospital researchers publish promising results on laser surgery for severe OCD

A PSYCHIATRIC NEUROSURGERY team at Butler Hospital has documented progress in 7 out of 10 patients who underwent a type of laser surgery for treatment of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. / COURTESY BUTLER HOSPITAL

PROVIDENCE – Researchers at Butler Hospital have released new data on a procedure that may help treat severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The study involved 10 patients who underwent a bilateral ventral capsulotomy, a type of surgery performed using “magnetic resonance imaging-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy,” according to a news release from Care New England Health System, which owns Butler Hospital.

Each patient’s progress was tracked for six months to two years after the procedure.

Seven patients showed significant progress, said Nicole C. McLaughlin, a Butler Hospital neuropsychologist who led the research project.

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Two patients experienced apathy or amotivation following the surgery, while another suffered a small hemorrhage in the area treated by a laser, along with insomnia.

One patient died of a drug overdose seven months after surgery, although researchers did not consider the death related to the procedure.

“This is the largest sample published thus far showing positive outcomes using this new method, LITT, to treat patients with treatment-resistant OCD. We hope that adding a new technique will provide more treatment options for these severely ill patients,” McLaughlin said.

“Overall, LITT ventral capsulotomy was generally well-tolerated, with promising evidence of effectiveness in the largest such series to date. Results were comparable to those after gamma knife ventral capsulotomy, as well as deep brain stimulation.”

More about the project can be found at butler.org/psychiatric-neurosurgery-program.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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