Ketamine and electroconvulsive therapy: so happy together?


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewAnesthetics, such as thiopental, methohexital, propofol and ketamine have been used to induce unconsciousness for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), each with its advantages and disadvantages. Only until recently was it discovered that ketamine may have inherent antidepressant effects. We reviewed the side effect profile of ketamine and examined the literature for whether or not ketamine augments the antidepressant effects of ECT.Recent findingsSystematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the potential benefits of adding ketamine to ECT treatment have generated varied conclusions. Currently there is a lack of clear evidence that ketamine with ECT is more efficacious than ECT alone.SummaryLarge, multicenter randomized controlled trials are needed to further investigate the potential advantages of adding ketamine to ECT for patients with severe or refractory depression. The addition of ketamine to ECT treatment may have some early beneficial effect in patients with acute depressive disorders. Most likely, ECT itself is responsible for lasting remission from severe depression. Ketamine's side effect profile may be undesirable in certain patient populations, and so the risks and benefits of the addition of this drug to ECT treatment must be weighed.

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