The term “OCD” often gets tossed around casually, to describe people who like to keep a tidy house or wonder if they left the coffee pot on when they left for work.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is no light matter, though. People who suffer from OCD are plagued with recurring thoughts that they can’t control, and can’t get rid of.
They try to stop the thoughts by performing certain actions, but the thoughts don’t go away and they feel that they have to perform the actions over and over again.
First-line treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder include medications and therapy. Unfortunately sometimes those treatments do not work.
This is where Columbia neurosurgeon Dr. Sameer Sheth comes in. One of Dr. Sheth’s specialties is helping OCD patients for whom conventional treatment has failed, and whose symptoms are so severe that they interfere with normal daily life. He is one of the few neurosurgeons in the country who treats severe, refractory OCD with neurosurgery.
Dr. Sheth gave a presentation on neurosurgery for OCD at the annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) this fall, called “Neurosurgery for OCD: A Neurobiological Framework Based on Cognitive Control and Cingulate Cortex Dysfunction.”
Neurosurgery for OCD can be done either through deep brain stimulation, or lesion therapy. In deep brain stimulation Dr. Sheth places tiny electrodes into the patient’s brain, which send electrical impulses into the part of the brain causing the OCD symptoms. For lesion therapy Dr. Sheth burns away a tiny part of that area of the brain using a precisely targeted laser. Both types of surgery are used only for the most severe cases of OCD and only after all other treatments have failed. But for those patients who fit the criteria for surgery, neurosurgery may bring them relief.
Lesion therapy with precise lasers can be used for more than treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. At the CNS conference Dr. Sheth also gave a presentation on using laser surgery to relieve certain types of pain, called “Laser Surgery for Pain.”
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