Which anesthetic agents for ambulatory electro-convulsive therapy?

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Purpose of review

There have been a considerable number of research articles published in the last 10 years outlining possible advances in the provision of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) anaesthesia. This has resulted in a range of new drugs having been proposed as useful in the ECT setting. In particular, the use of adjuvant drugs that might improve outcomes to treatment has been investigated.

Recent findings

There is a high level of interest in ketamine and remifentanil as agents that may alter response in ECT anaesthesia, by reducing cognitive effects, and minimizing the dose of induction agent. The numbers of patients involved in current trials have been small, and it is not possible to give a definitive answer as to the usefulness of these drugs at this stage.


This review covers the major recent trials involving new and emerging treatments in ECT, and brings the reader up to date with state of knowledge of ECT anaesthesia and pharmacology.

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