Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I., is leading a clinical study evaluating the effectiveness and safety of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Benjamin D. Greenberg, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Butler Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, is the lead investigator. He noted, "In the most severe cases, OCD causes profound impairment in work and social life, as well as tremendous suffering. Our work, plus that of colleagues in Europe, shows that DBS is a promising treatment for patients with OCD who remain very ill and debilitated despite the best available standard treatments, which are cognitive behavioral therapy and medications."
In DBS, thin wires are implanted in brain circuits that are involved in OCD. The wires are connected under the skin to a battery-powered stimulating device, which is implanted in the patient's chest. These are the same kinds of devices that have become an FDA-approved standard of care for people with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. Pilot studies at Butler's OCD Research Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the other centers that are part of this trial have found that stimulation in this area reduced OCD symptoms.
According to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the most disabling medical conditions. DBS offers people who have not been helped by specific behavior therapy for OCD and medications another potential treatment option.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved DBS for humanitarian use for patients with OCD. The study is working closely with other scientists and physicians who were just awarded funding by the National Institute of Mental Health to establish the Silvio O. Conte Center to carry out research to understand more about DBS in OCD. Suzanne Haber, PhD, heads this center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Dr. Greenberg at Butler Hospital and Brown University is its co-director.
Dr. Greenberg says that there is also a companion study of brain functioning in OCD that does not involve surgery.
Source: Butler Hospital