Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Posted by e-Medical PPT Saturday, September 17, 2011
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Its mode of action is unknown.Today, ECT is most often recommended for use as a treatment for severe depression that has not responded to other treatment, and is also used in the treatment of mania and catatonia.
The aim of ECT is to induce a therapeutic clonic seizure (a seizure where the person loses consciousness and has convulsions) lasting for at least 15 seconds. Although a large amount of research has been carried out, the exact mechanism of action of ECT remains elusive.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2001 guidelines give the primary indications for ECT among patients with depression as a lack of response to, or intolerance of, antidepressant medications; a good response to previous ECT; and the need for a rapid and definitive response (e.g. because of psychosis or a risk of suicide).The APA ECT guidelines state that severe major depression with psychotic features, manic delirium, or catatonia are conditions where there is a clear consensus favoring early ECT. The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend ECT for patients with severe depression, catatonia, or prolonged or severe mania.he 2001 APA ECT guidelines say that ECT is rarely used as a first-line treatment for schizophrenia but is considered after unsuccessful treatment with antipsychotic medication, and may also be considered in the treatment of patients with schizoaffective or schizophreniform disorder.
Informed consent is sought before treatment. Patients are informed about the risks and benefits of the procedure. Patients are also made aware of risks and benefits of other treatments and of not having the procedure done at all.ECT is usually given on an in-patient basis.Prior to treatment a patient is given a short-acting anesthetic such as thiopental,a muscle relaxant such as suxamethonium (succinylcholine), and occasionally atropine to inhibit salivation.Both electrodes can be placed one on the same side of the patient's head. This is known as unilateral ECT. Unilateral ECT is used first to minimize side effects (memory loss). When electrodes are placed on both sides of the head, this is known as bilateral ECT.The electrodes deliver an electrical stimulus. The stimulus levels recommended for ECT are in excess of an individual's seizure threshold: about one and a half times seizure threshold for bilateral ECT and up to 12 times for unilateral ECT.Below these levels treatment may not be effective in spite of a seizure, while doses massively above threshold level, especially with bilateral ECT, expose patients to the risk of more severe cognitive impairment without additional therapeutic gains.

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