Long-term electrical stimulation of bed nucleus of stria terminalis for obsessive-compulsive disorder

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We previously reported that bilateral electrical stimulation in the anterior limb of the internal capsule/bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (IC/BST) effectively reduces symptoms in severe treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients. Here we used a linear mixed model to investigate the evolution of symptomatic and functional status of our patients (n=24) and examined if baseline variables could predict this evolution. Data were collected during routine, clinical psychiatric visits. Our analysis showed a long-term, sustained effect of electrical stimulation in the IC/BST. After a fast initial decline of OCD symptoms, these symptoms remain relatively stable. In addition, we found a strong ON/OFF effect of stimulation (e.g., due to battery depletion). Our data also show that it is not the surgical procedure but rather the electrical stimulation that drives the improvement in Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) scores. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) at baseline was the only predictor significantly related to the evolution of the Y-BOCS. A higher BDI at baseline seemed to be related to a smaller decrease of the Y-BOCS over time. In conclusion, electrical stimulation in the IC/BST has a fast and sustained effect on OCD and comorbid symptoms and functional status of patients.

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