Efficacy of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established and growing intervention for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (TROCD). We assessed current evidence on the efficacy of DBS in alleviating OCD and comorbid depressive symptoms including newly available evidence from recent trials and a deeper risk of bias analysis than previously available. PubMed and EMBASE databases were systematically queried using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We included studies reporting primary data on multiple patients who received DBS therapy with outcomes reported through the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Primary effect measures included Y-BOCS mean difference and per cent reduction as well as responder rate (≥35% Y-BOCS reduction) at last follow-up. Secondary effect measures included standardised depression scale reduction. Risk of bias assessments were performed on randomised controlled (RCTs) and non-randomised trials. Thirty-four studies from 2005 to 2021, 9 RCTs (n=97) and 25 non-RCTs (n=255), were included in systematic review and meta-analysis based on available outcome data. A random-effects model indicated a meta-analytical average 14.3 point or 47% reduction (p<0.01) in Y-BOCS scores without significant difference between RCTs and non-RCTs. At last follow-up, 66% of patients were full responders to DBS therapy. Sensitivity analyses indicated a low likelihood of small study effect bias in reported outcomes. Secondary analysis revealed a 1 standardised effect size (Hedges’ g) reduction in depressive scale symptoms. Both RCTs and non-RCTs were determined to have a predominantly low risk of bias. A strong evidence base supports DBS for TROCD in relieving both OCD and comorbid depression symptoms in appropriately selected patients.

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