Neuropathological evaluation of an 84-year-old man after 422 ECT treatments

J ECT. 2014 Sep;30(3):248-50. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0000000000000062.


Concern remains among many that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes "brain damage." This ambiguous term presumably refers to lesions that could, in principle, be observed either grossly or microscopically in postmortem studies, and the assertion that it occurs appears to be based largely on old reports with dubious relevance to modern practice. Fortunately, using modern technique, ECT is so safe that mortality around the time of treatment is extraordinarily rare and as a result there has been little opportunity for postmortem examination of individuals who had recently had ECT. We report a case in which postmortem brain examination was performed roughly a month after the patient's last treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catatonia / pathology*
  • Catatonia / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination