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Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a serious neuropsychiatric disorder. Treatment often includes a combination of high dose antidepressants — such as Fluvoxamine, Fluoxetine, Clomipramine — and psychotherapy.

Sadly, many people with OCD show only partial relief of their symptoms.

Some people show no improvement in their symptoms and struggle to perform day to day activities. This leads to severe problems with relationships, work, and their well-being.

What is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)?

DBS is an advanced clinical treatment for people with severe OCD who aren't responsive to traditional treatment options.

Doctors most often use DBS to treat movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and dystonia. But the FDA approved DBS to treat OCD under a Humanitarian Device Exemption.

When Do You Use DBS?

To receive this treatment, you need to meet the requirements below.

DBS inclusion criteria

You must be 18 years or older and have:

  • OCD for at least 5 years
  • Severe OCD based on rating scales.
  • Failed at least 3 complete selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) trials.
  • Finished or tried to finish cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Exclusion criteria for DBS

You won't be able to receive DBS treatment if you're pregnant, OCD-primary hoarding type.

  • Personality disorders.
  • Substance abuse disorders.
  • Had prior surgery to destroy the region of the brain that DBS will target.
  • Had other major nervous system diseases, including dementia.

How Do Doctors Perform DBS?

DBS is a surgical technique performed by a specially trained neurosurgeon.

The doctor implants a thin wire (electrode) in the part of the brain causing your symptoms.

The wire connects to a pulse generator implanted under the skin below the collarbone. It carries mild electrical pulses to the brain to help control abnormal behaviors.

DBS is both adjustable and reversible.

Does DBS Have Side Effects?

DBS is very safe. The risk of a serious complication is about 1 percent.

We will take every effort to reduce any risks. And we'll watch you carefully after your DBS surgery.

How Do I Prepare for DBS?

Your current treating psychiatrist will need to refer you for an assessment by one of our OCD specialists.

We'll gather your health records focusing on past treatments, including drugs and psychotherapy. We'll also assess you for any health or other issues that might have an impact on your response to DBS.

Contact Us for a DBS Assessment

Have your psychiatrist call 412-246-5063 to schedule an assessment. You may also call that number if you have questions or want to make your own appointment.