Effect of anatomical variability on neural stimulation strength and focality in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and magnetic seizure therapy (MST)

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009;2009:682-8. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5334091.


We present a quantitative comparison of two metrics-neural stimulation strength and focality-in electrocon-vulsive therapy (ECT) and magnetic seizure therapy (MST) using finite-element method (FEM) simulation in a spherical head model. Five stimulation modalities were modeled, including bilateral ECT, unilateral ECT, focal electrically administered seizure therapy (FEAST), and MST with circular and double-cone coils, with stimulation parameters identical to those applied in clinical practice. We further examine the effect on the stimulation metrics of individual-, sex- and age-related variability in tissue layer thickness and conductivity. Neural stimulation by MST is shown to be more focal and superficial than ECT. This result suggests that it may be advantageous to reduce the current used in ECT. The stimulation strength in MST is also less sensitive to variations in head geometry and tissue conductivity than in ECT. Individualization of pulse amplitude in both ECT and MST could compensate for anatomical variability, which could lead to more consistent clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome