Background: The choice of whether to administer nondominant unilateral (UL) or bilateral (BL) ECT remains controversial.
Methods: A study in which moderately suprathreshold UL nonresponders at treatment 6 were randomized to UL or BL ECT offered the opportunity to explore whether ictal EEG indices at treatment 2 might predict response to UL ECT, and also which UL ECT nonresponders are likely to respond to BL ECT.
Results: We found that less postictal suppression in response to the second UL ECT stimulus was predictive of a poorer subsequent therapeutic response to UL ECT, but of a better therapeutic response if switched to BL ECT. A multivariate ictal EEG model was developed that had a significant capacity to differentiate those who will respond to UL ECT versus those who will not respond to UL ECT, but who will be therapeutic responders when switched to BL ECT.
Conclusions: This study raises the possibility that ictal EEG indices at treatment 2 may identify situations when UL ECT is physiologically and therapeutically inadequate, and when BL ECT is likely to be more effective. The determination of whether such predictive physiologic models are of clinical utility for the prediction of outcome awaits further study.