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AROUND THE MEDICAL CENTER :: WINTER 2014
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VU to investigate deep brain stimulation for depression


By Craig Boerner
August 2012

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is one of approximately 20 centers in a nationwide clinical study investigating the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) as an intervention for patients with major depression.

BROADEN (BROdmann Area 25 DEep brain Neuromodulation) is the first randomized clinical research study to investigate DBS as an intervention for patients diagnosed with unipolar major depressive disorder (excluding bipolar disorder) who have not improved after multiple treatments.

DBS is a therapy that uses mild pulses of current to regulate specific areas of the brain, much like a pacemaker uses pulses of current to regulate the heart.

In this study, stimulation is being delivered to an area of the brain known as Brodmann Area 25, which is believed to function differently in people with major depression and appears to be overactive when people are profoundly sad and depressed.

Vanderbilt was chosen to participate in this study, which builds on the work of a research team from the University of Toronto led by Helen Mayberg and Andres Lozano, because of its extensive experience with various forms of neuromodulation and in treating psychiatric illness.

Patients enrolling in the study must be willing to transfer psychiatric care to Ronald Salomon, M.D., associate professor of Psychiatry and the principal investigator for the study at Vanderbilt, during the course of the 14-month study.

Once the study has been completed, patients will have the option to either participate in a long-term follow-up study, return to the care of their referring psychiatrist while maintaining DBS programming-related care with a BROADEN study center, or have the DBS system removed.

Participants must be between 21 and 70 years old, with the onset of the first episode before age 45, and currently be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

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