Neurosurgical treatment for addiction: Lessons from an untold story in China and a path forward

Shuo Ma, Chencheng Zhang, Ti-fei Yuan, Douglas Steele, Valerie Voon, Bomin Sun (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Addiction is a major public-health crisis associated with significant disability and mortality. Although various pharmacological and behavioral treatments are currently available, the clinical efficacy of these treatments is limited. Given this situation, there is a growing interest in finding an effective neurosurgical treatment for addiction. First, we discuss the use of ablative surgery in treating addiction. We focus on the rise and fall of nucleus accumbens ablation for addiction in China. Subsequently, we review recent studies that have explored the efficacy and safety of deep-brain-stimulation treatment for addiction. We conclude that neurosurgical procedures, particularly deep-brain stimulation, have a potentially valuable role in the management of otherwise intractable addictive disorders. Larger well-controlled clinical trials, however, are needed to assess clinical efficacy and safety. We end by discussing several key issues involved in this clinical field and identifying some areas of progress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-712
Number of pages11
JournalNational Science Review
Issue number3
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • ablative surgery
  • deep-brain stimulation
  • drug addiction
  • medical ethics
  • psychosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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