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1950's Brain Surgery to Treat OCD May Treat Bipolar Disorder

A 1950's brain surgery performed to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may help in the treatment of bipolar disorder and major depression. A neurosurgical department of Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School found that patients with "severe, chronic, disabling, and treatment refractory psychiatric illness" could benefit through "surgical intervention" in the form of bilateral cingulotomy.
The surgery uses an electrode or gamma knife to target the cingulate gyrus portion of the brain. The cingulate gyrus is part of the limbic system that controls and coordinates emotional sensory input , emotional response to pain, and also regulates aggressive behavior. The procedure involves a 1/2 inch cut or burn to the cingulate gyrus and affects the patient's frontal lobes, responsible for reasoning, impulse control, and judgment.
Most insurance companies will not cover the procedure for the treatment of bipolar disorder because it is considered an "investigational service" at this time. Studies have proven that as many as 62% of patients who have undergone this procedure have dramatically improved in cases where severe affective disorders proved otherwise untreatable. Side effects from the procedure include: deficits in attention span, spontaneous verbal utterances, and "impaired unstructured design fluency."

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