Contemporary psychosurgery and a look to the future

R. P. Feldman, R. L. Alterman, J. T. Goodrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Object. Despite a long and controversial history, psychosurgery has persisted as a modern treatment option for some severe, medically intractable psychiatric disorders. The goal of this study was to review the current state of psychosurgery. Methods. In this review, the definition of psychosurgery, patient selection criteria, and anatomical and physiological rationales for cingulotomy, subcaudate tractotomy, anterior capsulotomy, and limbic leukotomy are discussed. The historical developments, modern procedures, and results of these four contemporary psychosurgical procedures are also reviewed. Examples of recent advances in neuroscience indicating a future role for neurosurgical intervention for psychiatric disease are also mentioned. Conclusions. A thorough understanding of contemporary psychosurgery will help neurosurgeons and other physicians face the ethical, social, and technical challenges that are sure to lie ahead as modern science continues to unlock the secrets of the mind and brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-956
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior capsulotomy
  • Cingulotomy
  • Limbic leukotomy
  • Psychosurgery
  • Subcaudate tractotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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