Bilateral Cingulotomy

Bilateral cingulotomy is a psychosurgical procedure used to treat refractory depression, obsessive compulsive disorder that has not responded to drug treatment, and, rarely, chronic pain syndrome.

The bilateral cingulotomy is often an adjunct to and not a substitute for treatment. The goal of the surgery is to sever the supracallosal fibers of the cingulum bundle, which passes through the anterior cingulate gyrus.

The operation targets the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a part of the limbic system. This system controls and affects the integration of feelings and emotion in the human cortex. It includes the cingulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, amygdala, and the hippocampal formation.

The bilateral cingulotomy was first performed in the 1950s as an alternative to standard prefrontal lobotomy in an attempt to treat the symptoms of mental illness while reducing the undesirable effects, such as personality changes. In the 1940s and early 1950s psychosurgery became popular in the United States and prefrontal lobotomies were performed for intractable mental illness, in particular, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. However, negative side effects led to the innovation and implementation of new and less invasive surgical approaches. Building on earlier hypotheses, American physiologist James Fulton first suggested that the anterior cingulum would be an appropriate psychosurgical target for a safe and effective cingulotomy.

After surgery, the patient may experience an immediate reduction in anxiety, but beneficial effects on depression and obsessive compulsive disorder take longer to appear, and recovery usually takes four days. If there is no benefit after several months, another surgery may be performed.

See also Brain ; Brain disorders ; Brain injuries ; Neuroimaging ; Neuron .


Not easily treated or cured.
A surgery in which part of the brain is cut in order to control some mental disorders.



Herwegen, Jo Van, and Deborah Riby. Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Research Challenges and Solutions. New York: Psychology Press, 2015.

Rosenberg, Roger N., et al. The Molecular and Genetic Basis of Neurologic and Psychiatric Disease, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, William, and Wilkins, 2014.

Squire, Larry R. Fundamental Neuroscience. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press, 2013.


Hayempour, Benjamin Jacob. “Psychosurgery: Treating Neurobiological Disorders with Neurosurgical Intervention.” Journal of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 1, no. 1 (2013): 1–19.


National Institutes of Health. “Neurologic Diseases (General).” (accessed February 24, 2015).

World Health Organization. “Neurology.” (accessed February 24, 2015).


American Academy of Neuology, 201 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis, MN, 55415, (612) 928-6000, Fax: (612) 4542746,, .