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J ECT. 2006 Jun;22(2):103-6.

Ketamine appears associated with better word recall than etomidate after a course of 6 electroconvulsive therapies.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 825 Fairfax Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23507, USA. mcdaniww@EVMS.EDU


Ten patients treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depressive illness received anesthesia with either etomidate or ketamine. Three patients received both etomidate and ketamine anesthesia for ECT during separate episodes of depression. Patients anesthetized with ketamine for ECT had significantly less impairment of short-term memory function than did patients who received ECT with etomidate anesthesia. All patients who received both anesthetics for ECT during 2 different episodes had less memory loss during ECT with ketamine than with etomidate. These results show the importance of studying the effects of all anesthetic agents used during ECT on cognitive functions. The results imply that the effect of ECT on memory may be largely caused by effects mediated by glutamate at N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors and suggest that N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonists may offer protection from memory dysfunction during ECT.

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