In a hospital in Gurugram, the first surgery on schizophrenia in India was successfully completed.
In a significant medical milestone, a 28-year-old man hailing from Africa who has been grappling with schizophrenia since the age of 13 has undergone pioneering surgery for schizophrenia in India. The medical team at Marengo Asia Hospitals in Gurugram successfully performed deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery on the patient, making it the first procedure of its kind to be carried out in the country.
Schizophrenia, a debilitating mental illness, poses immense challenges for those afflicted by it. The patient, diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 15, experienced a life-altering transformation through the DBS surgery. This cutting-edge technique involves the precise implantation of electrodes into specific regions of the brain. These electrodes then emit controlled electrical impulses, facilitating the regulation of abnormal brain activity and the restoration of equilibrium.
With only 13 instances of such surgery being conducted worldwide, this groundbreaking procedure represents a remarkable advancement in the field of psychiatric surgery, commonly known as psychosurgery. The medical team from Marengo Asia Hospitals expressed their pride in this significant accomplishment, emphasising the potential impact it can have on the future of treating mental illnesses.
The surgery, performed on June 14, has already yielded promising and extraordinary results. The patient exhibited a remarkable reduction in symptoms and an overall improvement in his condition. The doctors closely monitored his progress and reported that, following the procedure, he experienced a 50–60 percent improvement in his symptoms by the second day. Furthermore, by the tenth day, the patient reported an astounding 80 percent reduction in hallucinations, delusions, and anxiety—an outcome that holds great promise for individuals suffering from schizophrenia.
The entire surgery, which took approximately 8–10 hours, was conducted with meticulous care, and the patient received continuous monitoring in the intensive care unit (ICU) overnight. The fact that he was able to walk on the second day after the operation further attests to the successful nature of the procedure. Dr. Himanshu Champaneri, a highly experienced Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon at the hospital, expressed his satisfaction with the patient’s progress, highlighting the substantial alleviation of his symptoms.
This groundbreaking achievement in India marks a significant milestone in the treatment of schizophrenia and reinforces the potential of DBS as a therapeutic option. The successful outcome of this surgery brings hope not only to the patient but also to countless others suffering from this challenging mental illness. With further advancements in this field, there is a renewed sense of optimism for improved interventions and enhanced quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Champaneri explained that in the case of schizophrenia, the target area for treatment is the Nucleus Accumbens, a region of the brain responsible for the manifestation of symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Despite the patient’s undergoing various medication regimens, his symptoms of schizophrenia persisted, leading to a significant decline in his quality of life. Isolated in his room for eight years, he experienced social and academic setbacks, ultimately dropping out of school.
Over time, the patient’s symptoms worsened, leading to complete social withdrawal and increasing resistance to prescribed medications. Recognising the impact of the condition on the patient’s daily functioning, his father brought him to India to explore alternative treatment options. It was then that the doctors proposed neuromodulation, an advanced treatment approach.
After considering various treatment alternatives, the patient was deemed suitable for deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. In accordance with the Mental Health Act of 2017 in India, the hospital obtained approval from the government mental health review board to proceed with the psychosurgery.
Dr. Champaneri explained that DBS works by modulating abnormal brain networks, offering the potential for further improvement in patients over time. Although DBS is commonly associated with its application in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, its potential in treating psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, shows promising results.
The surgical procedure aims to precisely target and stimulate the Nucleus Accumbens, altering the abnormal brain circuitry associated with schizophrenia. By doing so, the hope is that the patient’s symptoms will be alleviated, leading to a significant improvement in his overall functioning and quality of life.
Before the surgery, a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition was conducted, including psychiatric assessments and neuroimaging studies, to ensure that he met the criteria for the procedure. Additionally, extensive discussions and counselling were provided to the patient and his family, addressing the potential benefits, risks, and long-term implications of the surgery.
The patient, accompanied by his supportive family, proceeded with the DBS surgery. The surgical team implanted small electrodes into precise locations within the Nucleus Accumbens. These electrodes are connected to a pulse generator, which is placed under the skin of the chest or abdomen. The generator emits electrical impulses that regulate the abnormal brain activity associated with schizophrenia, helping to restore a more balanced and functional state.
Following the surgery, the patient was closely monitored and provided with appropriate post-operative care. The medical team continued to fine-tune the stimulation settings based on the patient’s response and observed improvements. Regular follow-up visits and therapy sessions were scheduled to track the patient’s progress and provide comprehensive support.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of DBS may vary among individuals, and not all patients with schizophrenia may be suitable candidates for this treatment. However, for this particular patient, the medical team remains optimistic about the potential benefits that DBS can offer in his journey towards recovery and improved mental well-being.