Rate of continuing acute course treatment using right unilateral ultrabrief pulse electroconvulsive therapy at a large academic medical center

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2021 Feb;271(1):191-197. doi: 10.1007/s00406-020-01202-2. Epub 2020 Nov 16.


Right unilateral ultrabrief pulse (RUL-UBP) ECT has emerged as a promising technique for minimizing cognitive side effects of ECT while retaining clinical efficacy, but it is unknown how often patients will require alternative treatment parameters and at what point in the treatment course this occurs. To better define this problem, this study analyzes continuation in RUL-UBP ECT in a retrospective cohort of patients beginning acute course treatment. A single-center retrospective chart review was conducted of adult patients receiving a first lifetime course of ECT from 2010 to 2017 starting with RUL-UBP treatment parameters. 1793 patients met study criteria. Patients received a mean of 10.0 ± 3.2 ECT treatments, of which a mean of 8.4 ± 3.4 were RUL-UBP treatments; proportion using RUL-UBP through 12 treatments was 57.8%. In total, 65.6% of patients were treated with RUL-UPB ECT exclusively. Mean dose increased from 7.6 × seizure threshold at the second RUL-UBP treatment to 14.3 × seizure threshold at the twelfth RUL-UBP treatment. Rates of continuation in RUL-UBP ECT did not differ based on age or on primary diagnosis of major depression vs. bipolar disorder. Among patients beginning acute-course treatment using RUL-UPB ECT, two thirds were treated with these parameters exclusively. Among patients who received twelve RUL-UBP treatments, mean final dose was 14.3 × seizure threshold. Further studies regarding optimal dosing of RUL-UBP ECT are indicated.

Keywords: Cohort studies; Electroconvulsive therapy; Survival analysis; Ultrabrief pulse.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome