A form of psychosurgery in which the presumed frontal thalamocortical radiations of the anterior limb of the internal capsule of the brain are interrupted—by thermocoagulation using a bipolar electrode system—at the point where the connections pass between the head of the caudate nucleus and putamen Indications Obsessive neurosis—i.e., OCD—depression Complications Transient confusion, nocturnal incontinence, seizures, depression, excess fatigue, poor memory, slovenliness
Lesions produced bilaterally in the anterior limb of the internal capsule.
Traditionally, anterior capsulotomy (AC) was an established procedure for treatment of patients with refractory obsessive compulsive disorder OCD. Over recent decades, deep brain stimulation (DBS) has gained popularity.
Over the last two decades, deep brain stimulation (DBS) has gained popularity as a treatment of severe and medically refractory obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), often using brain targets informed by historical lesional neurosurgical procedures. Paradoxically, the use of DBS in OCD has led some multidisciplinary teams to revisit the use of lesional procedures, especially anterior capsulotomy (AC), although significant aversion still exists toward the use of lesional neurosurgery for psychiatric disorders.
Pepper et al. aimed to review all literature on the use of AC for OCD to examine its effectiveness and safety profile. All publications on AC for OCD were searched. In total 512 patients were identified in 25 publications spanning 1961-2018. In papers where a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) score was available, 73% of patients had a clinical response (i.e., > 35% improvement in Y-BOCS score) and 24% patients went into remission (Y-BOCS score < 8). In the older publications, published when the Y-BOCS was not yet available, 90% of patients were deemed to have had a significant clinical response and 39% of patients were considered symptom free. The rate of serious complications was low.In summary, AC is a safe, well-tolerated, and efficacious therapy. Its underuse is likely a result of historical prejudice rather than lack of clinical effectiveness 1).
Pepper et al., in 2015 reviewed the published literature and compare the outcome of AC and DBS targeting of the area of the ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS) and nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Patients in published cases were grouped according to whether they received AC or DBS and according to their preoperative scores on the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS), and then separated according to outcome measures: remission (YBOCS score < 8); response (≥ 35% improvement in YBOCS score); nonresponse (< 35% improvement in YBOCS score); and unfavorable (i.e., worsening of the baseline YBOCS score). Twenty studies were identified reporting on 170 patients; 62 patients underwent DBS of the VC/VS or the NAcc (mean age 38 years, follow-up 19 months, baseline YBOCS score of 33), and 108 patients underwent AC (mean age 36 years, follow-up 61 months, baseline YBOCS score of 30). In patients treated with DBS there was a 40% decrease in YBOCS score, compared with a 51% decrease for those who underwent AC (p = 0.004). Patients who underwent AC were 9% more likely to go into remission than patients treated with DBS (p = 0.02). No difference in complication rates was noted. Anterior capsulotomy is an efficient procedure for refractory OCD. Deep brain stimulation in the VC/VS and NAcc area is an emerging and promising therapy. The current popularity of DBS over ablative surgery for OCD is not due to nonefficacy of AC, but possibly because DBS is perceived as more acceptable by clinicians and patients 2).
Richieri et al., report the first case of a patient with severe, intractable Tourette Syndrome (TS) with comorbid Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD), who recovered from both disorders with gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery following deep brain stimulation (DBS). This case highlights the possible role of the internal capsule within the neural circuitries underlying both TS and OCD, and suggests that in cases of treatment-refractory TS and comorbid OCD, bilateral anterior capsulotomy using stereotactic radiosurgery may be a viable treatment option 3).