Reclaim™ Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


The University of Colorado Anschutz (with University of Colorado Hospital) is one of the few centers in the U.S. to offer Deep Brain Stimulation as an option for treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder. The CU program offers a multi-disciplinary approach through collaboration with the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery.

Deep brain stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation involves a stereotactic neurosurgical procedure to place electrodes in both sides of the brain in structures known as the Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule (AIC). The areas that are specifically targeted within the AIC are the Ventral Capsule/Ventral Striatum (VC/VS) and Nucleus Accumbens (NAc). The electrodes are connected to extension wires and pulse generators (similar to pacemakers) in the individual's chest wall. After surgery, the patient works with a psychiatrist with expertise in DBS programming to find the stimulation settings that provide optimal relief of symptoms with minimal side effects.

DBS of the Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule (AIC) is approved under the U.S. FDA Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) for severe to extreme treatment-resistant OCD:

An HDE is a determination that a medical device is safe and has probable benefit. An HDE device is not considered investigational or experimental.  HDE products are considered by the FDA to be commercially approved and are eligible for coverage and payment when an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval exists at the facility performing the procedure.

If you are interested in DBS for OCD and believe you may be a candidate, please have your primary psychiatrist contact our DBS coordinator, Emily Hemendinger, LCSW, MPH, CPH at (303) 724-2277.  The first step in the process is a review of your history and records to be sure you meet the basic eligibility criteria.

If you are interested in DBS for severe, treatment-refractory OCD, please have your primary psychiatrist complete this form and fax to 303-724-8859.

An individual, 18 years-old or older may be a candidate for treatment with DBS if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • Severe to extreme OCD (Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale score of 28 or higher)
  • Has participated in at least 20 sessions of exposure and response prevention therapy with an OCD specialist
  • Has tried at least three serotonergic medications (such as SSRIs) at FDA-max dose or higher for at least 12 weeks each at max dose. One of these agents needs to be clomipramine with a therapeutic blood level for 12 weeks.
  • Has taken a long-acting benzodiazepine in addition to a serotonergic medication for at least a month
  • Has taken an antipsychotic (dopamine blocking medication) in addition to a serotonergic medication for at least a month
  • Does not have any active substance use disorder
  • Does not have a severe personality disorder
  • Does not have a primary psychotic or bipolar disorder
  • No imminent suicidality (no recent or current suicidal behaviors or plans)

Rachel Davis, MD
Psychiatrist/Director, Psychiatric Neuromodulation and Co-Director, OCD Surgical Program

Emily Hemendinger, LCSW, MPH, CPH
OCD-DBS Patient Coordinator

Steven Ojemann, MD
Neurosurgeon - Psychiatric DBS

Drew Kern, MD
DBS Neurologist

Pamela David Gerecht, PhD
DBS Research Coordinator

Judith Gault, PhD
DBS Researcher

John Thompson, PhD

Brian Hoyt, PhD

Michael Greher, PhD

Elizabeth Fenstermacher, MD 
Psychiatrist | TMS Clinic 




If you are interested in DBS for severe, treatment-refractory OCD, please have your primary psychiatrist complete this form and fax to 303-724-8859.





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Psychiatry (SOM)

CU Anschutz

Anschutz Health Sciences Building

1890 N Revere Ct

Suite 4003

Mail Stop F546

Aurora, CO 80045


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