A two-site, open-label, non-randomized trial comparing Focal Electrically-Administered Seizure Therapy (FEAST) and right unilateral ultrabrief pulse electroconvulsive therapy (RUL-UBP ECT)

Brain Stimul. 2020 Sep-Oct;13(5):1416-1425. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2020.07.015. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


Background: Focal Electrically-Administered Seizure Therapy (FEAST) is a form of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) that spatially focuses the electrical stimulus to initiate seizure activity in right prefrontal cortex. Two open-label non-comparative studies suggested that FEAST has reduced cognitive side effects when compared to historical data from other forms of ECT. In two different ECT clinics, we compared the efficacy and cognitive side effects of FEAST and Right Unilateral Ultrabrief Pulse (RUL-UBP) ECT.

Methods: Using a non-randomized, open-label design, 39 depressed adults were recruited after referral for ECT. Twenty patients received FEAST (14 women; age 45.2 ± 12.7), and 19 received RUL-UBP ECT (16 women; age 43.2 ± 16.4). Key cognitive outcome measures were the postictal time to reorientation and the Columbia University Autobiographical Memory Interview: Short-Form (CUAMI-SF). Antidepressant effects were assessed using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD24).

Results: In the Intent-to-treat sample, a repeated measures mixed model suggested no between group difference in HRSD24 score over time (F1,35 = 0.82, p = 0.37), while the response rate favored FEAST (FEAST: 65%; RUL-UBP ECT: 57.9%), and the remission rate favored RUL-UBP ECT (FEAST: 35%; RUL-UBP ECT: 47.4%). The FEAST group had numeric superiority in average time to reorientation (FEAST: 6.6 ± 5.0 min; RUL-UBP ECT: 8.8 ± 5.8 min; Cohens d = 0.41), and CUAMI-SF consistency score (FEAST: 69.2 ± 14.2%; RUL-UBP ECT: 63.9 ± 9.9%; Cohens d = 0.43); findings that failed to meet statistical significance.

Conclusions: FEAST exerts similar efficacy relative to an optimal form of conventional ECT and may have milder cognitive side effects. A blinded, randomized, non-inferiority trial is needed.

Keywords: Depression; ECT; Electroconvulsive therapy; FEAST; Focal electrically-administered seizure therapy; TRD; Treatment resistant depression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / adverse effects
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome