SLUCare physicians Richard Bucholz, MD, Pratap Chand, MD, and the operating room team at SLU Hospital performed the first case for OCD in St. Louis July 6.
In deep brain stimulation, leads are surgically implanted into the brain through dime sized incisions and connected to a neurostimulator placed in the chest or abdomen. Those leads bring electric current from the neurostimulator into brain tissue at carefully mapped locations.
Thought of most often for use in treating patients with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, DBS is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating OCD. In 2014, a group of experts published a clinical guideline in the journal Neurosurgery recommending deep brain stimulation for cases of obsessive compulsive disorder that do not respond to medication.
“Psychiatric disease is a true condition and OCD can be terribly debilitating,” says Dr. Bucholz, vice chairman in the department of neurosurgery and K. R. Smith Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery at Saint Louis University. “This procedure helps these people overcome their compulsions and rejoin society.”
OCD is an anxiety disorder in which a person has unreasonable thoughts or worries, often managed through ritualized activities to reduce the anxiety.
“A tremor from Parkinson’s is an excess motor activity in the brain. Similarly, compulsions from OCD are excess thoughts in the brain,” says Dr. Bucholz. “Suppressing those thoughts through DBS is very similar to what we have done for years in treating movement disorders.”
The technology necessary to place these devices in the brain was pioneered and invented at Saint Louis University Hospital. Many centers performing deep brain stimulation use a surgical system called StealthStation, an image guided system allowing surgeons to insert electrodes into the brain with a high degree of precision. StealthStation was developed by Dr. Bucholz at SLU and is now used in operating rooms all over the world.
“This is a culmination of thirty years of work,” says Dr. Bucholz. “It has never been a more exciting time for patients and neurosurgery.”
For more information about deep brain stimulation at SLU Hospital, call 314-577-8715.
About Saint Louis University Hospital
Saint Louis University Hospital is a 356-licensed bed quaternary/tertiary referral center located in the heart of the city of St. Louis. Approximately 75 percent of patients are drawn from a 150-mile radius. Through affiliation as the teaching hospital for Saint Louis University, the hospital provides patients and their families with an environment of medical innovation. Working in this endeavor are the hospital’s medical staff partners, SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University. The hospital admits more than 17,000 patients annually and is a Level I Trauma Center that treats more than 2,000 major trauma cases a year. For more information, please visit www.sluhospital.com.