BACKGROUND: The ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule (vALIC) is a target for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Conventional surgical planning is based on anatomical landmarks.
OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesized that treatment response depends on the location of the active DBS contacts with respect to individual white matter bundle trajectories. This study thus aimed to elucidate whether vALIC DBS can benefit from bundle-specific targeting.
METHODS: We performed tractography analysis of two fiber bundles, the anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) and the supero-lateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) data. Twelve patients (10 females) who had received bilateral vALIC DBS for at least 12 months were included. We related the change in OCD symptom severity on the Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale (Y-BOCS) between baseline and one-year follow-up with the distances from the active contacts to the ATR and MFB. We further analyzed the relation between treatment response and stimulation sites in standard anatomical space.
RESULTS: We found that active stimulation of the vALIC closer to the MFB than the ATR was associated with better treatment outcome (p = 0.04; r2 = 0.34). In standard space, stimulation sites were largely overlapping between treatment (non)responders, suggesting response is independent of the anatomically defined electrode position.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that vALIC DBS for OCD may benefit from MFB-specific implantation and highlight the importance of corticolimbic connections in OCD response to DBS. Prospective investigation is necessary to validate the clinical use of MFB targeting.