Background: To determine the efficacy of adding haloperidol to the treatment of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), with or without a comorbid chronic tic disorder, who were refractory to adequate treatment with the serotonin-uptake inhibitor fluvoxamine alone. It was hypothesized that OCD patients with a concurrent chronic tic disorder would preferentially respond to this treatment.
Methods: Sixty-two patients with a primary DSM-III-R diagnosis of OCD received placebo fluvoxamine for 1 week, followed by 8 weeks of active fluvoxamine. Thirty-four of these patients were refractory to fluvoxamine and were randomized in a double-blind fashion to 4 weeks of treatment with either haloperidol (n = 17) or placebo (n = 17) added to ongoing fluvoxamine treatment. The placebo-treated group included five women and 12 men, six inpatients and 11 outpatients, and eight patients with a comorbid chronic tic disorder. The haloperidol-treated group consisted of two women and 15 men, three inpatients and 14 outpatients, and seven patients with a comorbid chronic tic disorder. All 34 patients completed the entire study. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) and the Clinical Global Impression scale were the principal measures of treatment outcome.
Results: Haloperidol addition was significantly better than placebo in reducing the severity of obsessive-compulsive symptoms as measured by the Y-BOCS. Eleven of 17 patients responded to the haloperidol, compared with none of 17 patients given placebo. Eight of eight patients with comorbid chronic tic disorders, such as Tourette's disorder, responded to double-blind haloperidol addition to ongoing fluvoxamine treatment. Haloperidol addition was of little benefit in treating OCD patients without tics. Fluvoxamine blood levels were not related to treatment response.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that OCD patients with a comorbid chronic tic disorder constitute a clinically meaningful subtype of OCD that might require conjoint serotonin-uptake inhibitor/neuroleptic therapy for effective symptom reduction.