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Neurosci Lett. 2010 Apr 5;473(2):77-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.02.019. Epub 2010 Feb 13.

Preliminary findings in ablating the nucleus accumbens using stereotactic surgery for alleviating psychological dependence on alcohol.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery and Institute for Functional Brain Disorders, Tangdu Hospital, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710038, China.


We studied the effect of stereotactic surgery in cases of alcohol dependence. Twelve patients with a psychological dependence on alcohol (treated systematically with medication for detoxification 3-8 times in various rehabilitation centers before, but had relapsed within 2 weeks after withdrawal) were treated by ablating the nucleus accumbens (NA(C)) bilaterally using stereotactic surgery. The therapeutic effect and safety evaluation index of the surgery were analyzed. The timing of the conducted evaluations was preoperatively and in the sixth postoperative month. Currently, relapse has not occurred in 9 cases. Relapse occurred in 3 cases after surgery. The prevalence of relapse was 16.7% within 6 months, and 25% within 12 months. Non-specific complications of this type of surgery (e.g., intracranial hematoma, infection) were not observed. One case in 12 patients suffered dysosmia, but he recovered completely 4 months later after surgery. The full-scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) and memory quotient (MQ) of these patients were significantly improved 6 months postoperatively compared with preoperatively. The severity of alcohol dependence scale and a scale measuring alcohol craving in these patients were significantly decreased. There were also significant changes over time in the Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory (MMPI) profile, suggesting a decrease in depression, irritability, and psychopathy. Ablating specified targets (NA(C)) using stereotactic surgery is a safe method to alleviate alcohol craving, reduce relapse rates and improve quality-of-life in patients with psychological dependence on alcohol.

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