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Indian J Anaesth. 2017 May;61(5):373-380. doi: 10.4103/ija.IJA_132_17.

Anaesthesia for electroconvulsive therapy: An overview with an update on its role in potentiating electroconvulsive therapy.

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Department of Psychiatry, Siddhartha Medical College, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Department of Anaesthesia, JJM Medical College, Davanagere, Karnataka, India.


Despite advances in pharmacotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains a mainstay treatment option in psychiatry since its introduction in 1930s. It can be used primarily in severe illnesses when there is an urgent need for treatment or secondarily after failure or intolerance to pharmacotherapy. The 'unmodified' technique of ECT was practised initially, with a high incidence of musculoskeletal complications. Several modifications including general anaesthesia and muscle relaxation are used to increase the safety and patient acceptability of ECT. Various anaesthetic techniques including medications are considered to provide adequate therapeutic seizure, simultaneously controlling seizure-induced haemodynamic changes and side effects. A brief review of literature on choice of these anaesthetic techniques is discussed. This article is intended to reinforce the knowledge of clinicians, who may have limited exposure to ECT procedure. Importance is given to the recent updates on the role of induction agents in potentiating therapeutic response to ECT in psychiatric disorders.


Anaesthesia; electroconvulsive therapy; synergistic effect

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