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J Neurosurg Sci. 2012 Sep;56(3):209-20.

A psychiatric primer for the functional neurosurgeon.

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University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


There is increasing attention in the neurosurgical literature towards surgery, specifically deep brain stimulation (DBS), for psychiatric indications. Several positive trials have spurred intense investigation and research in this area, owing to rapid advances in the neurosciences. As a result, the scope of neurosurgical practice is evolving to now include disorders that weren't traditionally in the purview of the average functional neurosurgeon. Further, functional neurosurgeons are now being charged with taking care of patients as part of a multi-disciplinary group that includes psychologists and psychiatrists. As DBS for psychiatry continues to evolve, and as further indications are explored, it is incumbent on neurosurgeons who treat these disorders to familiarize themselves with current standards of diagnosis and treatment. Just as the movement disorder surgeon should be familiar with the biology, physiology, diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease, so they should become familiar with similar aspects of commonly referred psychiatric conditions. Specifically, much of the interest in the DBS literature currently surrounds major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome. Here, we review the epidemiology, diagnostic criteria, hypothesized neurocircuitry and current treatments, both medical and surgical of each of these conditions to serve as a centralized, introductory primer for the practicing functional neurosurgeon.

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