: surgical severance of nerve fibers connecting the frontal lobes to the thalamus performed especially formerly for the relief of some mental disorders—called also leukotomy; compare lobectomy
Surgical procedure in which nerve pathways in a lobe or lobes of the brain are severed from those in other areas. Introduced in 1935 by António Egas Moniz and Almeida Lima, it came to be used to help grossly disturbed patients. Favoured for patients who did not respond to shock therapy, it did reduce agitation but often caused increased apathy and passivity, inability to concentrate, and decreased emotional response. It was widely performed until c. 1956, when drugs that were more effective in calming patients became available. Lobotomies are no longer performed; however, psychosurgery, the surgical removal of specific regions of the brain, is occasionally used to treat patients whose symptoms have resisted all other treatments.