Individualized Anesthetic Management for Patients Undergoing Electroconvulsive Therapy: A Review of Current Practice

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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains an indispensable treatment for severe psychiatric illness. It is practiced extensively in the United States and around the world, yet there is little guidance for anesthesiologists involved with this common practice. Communication between the anesthesiologist and the proceduralist is particularly important for ECT, because the choice of anesthetic and management of physiologic sequelae of the therapeutic seizure can directly impact both the efficacy and safety of the treatment. In this review, we examine the literature on anesthetic management for ECT. A casual or “one-size–fits-all” approach may lead to less-than-optimal outcomes; customizing the anesthetic management for each patient is essential and can significantly increase treatment success rate and patient satisfaction.

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