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The role of psychosurgery in the treatment of selected cases of refractory schizophrenia: a reappraisal

Authors
Journal
Schizophrenia Research
0920-9964
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
28
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0920-9964(97)00120-5
Keywords
  • Psychosurgery
  • Prefrontal Lobotomy
  • Leukotomy
  • Refractory Schizophrenia
  • Limbic System
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Prefrontal lobotomy (i.e. leukotomy) was widely performed for the treatment of schizophrenia during the late 1930s and 1940s but met with growing disrepute after the introduction of effective antipsychotic agents in the early 1950s. While non-invasive methods of treatment are undeniably preferable to somatic interventions for the management of psychiatric illnesses, there nevertheless continues to be a valid role for leukotomy in the treatment of patients with severe, chronic, refractory schizophrenia, particularly when the patient poses a risk to himself and/or to society. The present article traces the history of leukotomy in the treatment of schizophrenia, and reviews the author's experience with this surgical procedure in 16 patients who fulfilled the above criteria and underwent leukotomy during the years spanning 1985–1996. This operation reduced aggression and/or produced marked to slight improvement in all patients, and in no case led to adverse consequences. Thus, leukotomy is recommended as a legitimate treatment modality in selected patients with schizophrenia.

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