Anesthetic care for electroconvulsive therapy

Anesth Pain Med (Seoul). 2022 Apr;17(2):145-156. doi: 10.17085/apm.22145. Epub 2022 Apr 15.


Counselling and medication are often thought of as the only interventions for psychiatric disorders, but electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has also been applied in clinical practice for over 80 years. ECT refers to the application of an electric stimulus through the patient's scalp to treat psychiatric disorders such as treatment-resistant depression, catatonia, and schizophrenia. It is a safe, effective, and evidence-based therapy performed under general anesthesia with muscle relaxation. An appropriate level of anesthesia is essential for safe and successful ECT; however, little is known about this because of the limited interest from anesthesiologists. As the incidence of ECT increases, more anesthesiologists will be required to better understand the physiological changes, complications, and pharmacological actions of anesthetics and adjuvant drugs. Therefore, this review focuses on the fundamental physiological changes, management, and pharmacological actions associated with various drugs, such as anesthetics and neuromuscular blocking agents, as well as the comorbidities, indications, contraindications, and complications of using these agents as part of an ECT procedure through a literature review and our own experiences.

Keywords: Anesthesia; Electroconvulsive therapy; Experience; Major psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review