Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is effective for patients with treatment refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is present in up to a third of all patients with OCD, but it is unknown whether effectiveness of DBS for OCD also applies for patients with comorbid ASD. The present case series is the first to examine effectiveness on OCD symptoms and safety of DBS in patients with OCD and ASD specifically. Methods: Six consecutive patients with treatment-refractory OCD and comorbid ASD received DBS of the ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule (vALIC) or medial forebrain bundle (MFB). We examined effectiveness of DBS on symptoms of OCD and depression with the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), respectively. We included qualitative data to describe the course of treatment in individual patients with OCD and ASD. Results: We found that DBS significantly decreased symptoms of OCD (p < .001) and depression (p = .007). Four out of six patients with OCD and comorbid ASD were responders (decrease ≥ 35% in Y-BOCS), one patient was partial-responder (decrease 25–35% in Y-BOCS) and one patient did not respond (decrease ≤ 25% in Y-BOCS). Serious adverse events were an infection of the DBS system, and a suicide attempt. Conclusions: Though present results are preliminary, DBS reduced symptoms of OCD and depression in patients with OCD and comorbid ASD. Comorbid ASD should therefore not be seen as a contra-indication for DBS in OCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-497
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Effectiveness
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Safety
  • Treatment

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