The limbic system is a network of interconnected brain regions regulating emotion, memory, and behavior. Pathology of the limbic system can manifest as psychiatric disease, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depressive disorder. For patients with these disorders who have not responded to standard pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral therapy, ablative surgery is a neurosurgical treatment option. The major ablative limbic system procedures currently used are anterior capsulotomy, dorsal anterior cingulotomy, subcaudate tractotomy, and limbic leucotomy. In this review, we include a brief history of ablative limbic system surgery leading up to its current form. Mechanistic justification for these procedures is considered in a discussion of the pathophysiology of psychiatric disease. We then discuss therapeutic efficacy as demonstrated by recent trials. Finally, we consider future directions, including the search for predictors of treatment response, the development of more precise targeting methods, and the use of advances in neuroimaging to track treatment response.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Saurabh Sinha, Garrett Banks, Robert McGovern, Charles Mikell, and Sameer Sheth have no conflicts of interest. This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.
- Limbic system
- Major depressive disorder
- Mental disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder