Charting the road forward in psychiatric neurosurgery: proceedings of the 2016 American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery workshop on neuromodulation for psychiatric disorders

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2018 Aug;89(8):886-896. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2017-317082. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Objective: Refractory psychiatric disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and there is a great need for new treatments. In the last decade, investigators piloted novel deep brain stimulation (DBS)-based therapies for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Results from recent pivotal trials of these therapies, however, did not demonstrate the degree of efficacy expected from previous smaller trials. To discuss next steps, neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and representatives from industry convened a workshop sponsored by the American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery in Chicago, Illinois, in June of 2016.

Design: Here we summarise the proceedings of the workshop. Participants discussed a number of issues of importance to the community. First, we discussed how to interpret results from the recent pivotal trials of DBS for OCD and depression. We then reviewed what can be learnt from lesions and closed-loop neurostimulation. Subsequently, representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and industry discussed their views on neuromodulation for psychiatric disorders. In particular, these third parties discussed their criteria for moving forward with new trials. Finally, we discussed the best way of confirming safety and efficacy of these therapies, including registries and clinical trial design. We close by discussing next steps in the journey to new neuromodulatory therapies for these devastating illnesses.

Conclusion: Interest and motivation remain strong for deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disease. Progress will require coordinated efforts by all stakeholders.

Keywords: depression; electrical stimulation; psychiatry; stereotaxic surgery.

Publication types

  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / surgery*
  • Neurosurgery*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • United States