Objectives: There is a growing scientific literature describing the neuropsychiatric symptoms of anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis, including the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat those symptoms. We sought to consolidate this literature into a review that highlights its relevance to ECT practitioners.
Methods: We performed a PubMed search using the terms electroconvulsive therapy and encephalitis, autoimmune encephalitis, or anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. We reviewed all relevant studies in detail, cross-referenced all bibliographies, and collected key clinical information related to the practice of ECT.
Results: We identified 6 studies offering patient-level descriptions of the use of ECT in patients with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. In all cases ECT was used to target symptoms of catatonia. Electroconvulsive therapy was delivered safely and effectively irrespective of the timing of diagnosis, tumor removal, or immunotherapy.
Conclusions: There are no controlled data on the use of ECT in anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Further investigation is needed to determine whether ECT has a disease-modifying effect on this form of autoimmune encephalitis.