The author presents his personal perspective on ablative neurosurgical techniques used to perform bilateral anterior cingulotomy (BACI) and bilateral anterior capsulotomy (BACA) for ameliorating the symptoms of refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment refractory depression (TRD). With depression predicted to be the second most common cause of disability in the world by the year 2020 and the birth of electric neurostimulation representing an attractive alternative treatment option for TRD and OCD, it is desirable to revisit the pros and cons of these treatment options.
The author reviewed the surgical methods and outcome (including neuroimaging findings) in all cases in which ablative neurosurgery was performed at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School over the last 2 decades.
The advantages of ablative procedures (BACI and BACA) from patients’ and psychiatrists’ perspectives are that the ablative procedures are one-off procedures that do not require lifelong commitment to program the stimulation devices, fix hardware failures, or change exhausted batteries. From the perspective of healthcare funding bodies, the relatively low cost of these treatments is an advantage. The main disadvantages of BACI and BACA are the perceived higher complication rates, the irreversibility of the surgical lesions, and the stigma associated with brain destruction in psychiatric patients that are still unpalatable in the community at large. However, some patients still choose a one-off procedure in preference to any other options presented to them.
There is still place for BACI and BACA in modern neurosurgery for mental disorders, at least in the short term for those who do not want to commit to lifelong device programming and maintenance.