Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective intervention for patients with severe treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Our aim was to examine long-term effectiveness and tolerability of DBS and its impact on functioning and well-being. Methods: Fifty patients with severe treatment-refractory OCD received DBS of the ventral part of the anterior limb of the internal capsule and were followed for at least 3 years following implantation (mean 6.8 ± 3 years). Primary effectiveness was assessed by change in Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale scores. Secondary effectiveness measures included Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale–Brief Version, Global Assessment of Functioning, and a scale assessing functioning in work, family, and social life. Adverse effects of DBS were examined with a structured interview (n = 38). Results: At long-term follow-up, OCD symptoms decreased by 39% (p < .001), and half of the patients were responders (≥35% decrease of Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale score). Anxiety and depressive symptoms decreased significantly, with reductions of 48% and 50%, respectively. The World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale–Brief Version general score improved significantly, as did 3 of 4 subdomains. Both clinician- and patient-rated functioning improved substantially (p < .001). The unemployment rate decreased from 78% at baseline to 58% at last follow-up (z = −1.90, p = .058), and 21 patients stopped or decreased psychotropic medication (z = −2.887, p = .004). Long-term adverse effects included cognitive complaints and fatigue. Serious adverse events included 1 suicide attempt, related to comorbid depression. Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that DBS of the ventral part of the anterior limb of the internal capsule is effective and tolerable for treatment-refractory OCD in the long term and improves functioning and overall well-being.
- Deep brain stimulation
- Long-term effectiveness
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Side effects