John Gever reports in Medpage today that a recent study shows that deep brain stimulation may work to alleviate severe depression. In this study the 17 patients received a Medtronic Soletra implantable pulse generator, 1 of which did not complete the study. According to Ali R. Rezai, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic, “eight of the 16 patients showed at least 50% improvement in depression scores… and had significant improvement in quality of life, returning back to work, getting engaged, dating”. Gever reports:
Two patients had a return of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation when their pulse generators were accidentally turned off. Restarting them again led to symptom improvement, Dr. Rezai said.
The pulse generators can stop working when exposed to strong magnetic fields, such as in metal detectors, or when the batteries run out, he explained.
He said the next step would be a randomized, controlled trial.
He said Medtronic is currently sponsoring a double-blind, cross-over trial. All patients will have the devices implanted, but half the patients will not have the units switched on immediately so that they can serve as controls.