top of page

Acerca of


Deep brain stimulation

Not all people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) respond well to medication or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Treatment with DBS for OCD may relieve some symptoms of chronic, severe, treatment-resistant OCD.


Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) treatment for OCD targets specific regions of the brain that are linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device (similar to a pacemaker), which delivers carefully controlled electrical stimulation. The stimulation is sent to a well-targeted structure in the brain, namely the anterior arm of the inner capsule and the adjacent ventral striatum. The junction site between the ventral capsule and the ventral striatum is represented by the abbreviation VC / VS.

These circuits are involved in psychiatric disorders such as OCD and depression. DBS treatment therefore treats the symptoms of OCD. It is not a cure and some symptoms may remain even with treatment. If stimulation is interrupted, symptoms are likely to return.

The Medtronic DBS System has the following implanted components:

  • two electrodes - Electrodes are thin insulated wires terminated with four contacts. The electrodes are implanted in the brain.

  • two extensions - The extensions are connected to the electrodes. The extensions are inserted under the skin and go from the head to the upper part of the thorax along the neck.

  • neurostimulator - The neurostimulator is attached to the extension. This small, sealed device, similar to a pacemaker, contains a battery and an electronic system. The neurostimulator is implanted under the skin, either in the chest under the collarbone or in the abdominal region.
    One or two neurostimulators can be used. Sometimes referred to as a “brain stimulator,” the neurostimulator produces the electrical impulses necessary for stimulation. These electrical impulses are transmitted, via the extension and the electrode, to targeted parts of the brain.

Your clinician can adjust the pulses using a programmer (computer) to check or change the neurostimulator parameters and tailor them to individual treatment needs.


A small hand-held programmer (remote control) allows you to turn the system on / off by holding it for one to two seconds against the area where the neurostimulator is implanted (under the collarbone or in the abdominal region). But in most cases, the neurostimulator is still in active mode.


Once the neurostimulator is activated after surgery, it can be programmed by your clinician to find the level of stimulation that provides the maximum benefit while limiting side effects. The clinician uses a programmer (computer) that allows him to make non-invasive adjustments to the neurostimulator. It may take several months for her to find the right level of stimulation.

Depending on the electrical parameters of the device, the battery of a neurostimulator can last between 6 and 16 months. The neurostimulator can be replaced during surgery, without requiring the patient to stay overnight in the hospital. Electrodes and extensions generally do not need to be replaced.


DBS treatment for OCD enjoys CE recognition and is available as an adjunct to medication. DBS treatment is used as an alternative to anterior capsulotomy for the treatment of chronic, severe, treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adult patients who have failed to respond to three or more selective blood reuptake inhibitors. serotonin (SSRI).


DBS treatment for OCD can help manage your symptoms, but it is not a cure. When your DBS system is activated, it delivers stimulation that can reduce your symptoms of OCD. If stimulation is interrupted, symptoms are likely to return.

  • Non-destructive - DBS treatment is not intended to destroy nerve cells (or healthy tissue), as is the case with injury surgery.

  • Reversible - Deep brain stimulation is reversible. If the treatment is not effective, it can be stopped and the system can be removed.

  • Adjustable - Your clinician uses a special computer to wirelessly adjust stimulation levels. It may take several months for her to find the right level of stimulation.


The risks of DBS treatment are the risks associated with brain surgery. Adverse pacing-related effects or device-related complications may also occur.

Your doctor can provide more information about this, as well as other possible risks and side effects. Many pacing-related side effects can be managed by adjusting the pacing settings. Several follow-up visits may be necessary to determine the most suitable stimulation settings.

In addition, the neurostimulator will need to be replaced after a few months or years, depending on the level of stimulation you need. The neurostimulator can be replaced during surgery, without requiring the patient to stay overnight in the hospital.


There is currently no cure for OCD. Treatment with DBS can treat some symptoms of OCD, but does not cure the underlying condition. If stimulation is interrupted, symptoms are likely to return.


Show “I love you Etc.” by Daphné Bürki on France2 “OCD: how to cure it?” : with Audrey's testimony


bottom of page