Stereotactic amygdalotomy has been utilized as a surgical treatment for severe aggressive behavioral disorders. Several clinical studies have been reported since the first description of the procedure. In the current study, the authors reviewed the literature and evaluated the surgical results, neuropsychological outcome, and complication rate in patients who had undergone stereotactic amygdalotomy for severe aggressive behavioral disorders.
The PubMed database was searched using the following terms: “amygdalotomy,” “amygdalectomy,” “amygdaloidectomy,” “psychosurgery,” “aggressive disorder,” and “behavioral disorder.” Clinical series with more than 5 patients undergoing stereotactic amygdalotomy for aggressive or other behavioral disorders were included in this review. The surgical technique, anatomical target, improvement in psychiatric symptomatology, postoperative employment and social rehabilitation, postoperative neurocognitive function, procedure-related complications, and long-term follow-up were evaluated.
Thirteen clinical studies met our inclusion criteria. Reported postoperative improvement in aggressive behavior varied between 33 and 100%. Procedure-related complication rates ranged from 0 to 42%, whereas the mortality rate was as high as 3.8%. In the majority of the reviewed clinical series, the performance of stereotactic amygdalotomy did not compromise a patient’s learning, language, and intellectual capabilities. The long-term follow-up, although very limited, revealed that initially observed improvement was maintained in most cases.
Stereotactic amygdalotomy can be considered a valid surgical treatment option for carefully selected patients with medically refractory aggressive behavioral disorders. Recent advances in imaging and stereotactic navigation can further improve outcome and minimize the complication rate associated with this psychosurgical procedure.