Electroconvulsive Therapy in Patients Taking Steroid Medication: Should Supplemental Doses Be Given on the Days of Treatment?

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Abstract

Patients who take chronic steroid medication are often prescribed extra "stress doses" before procedures involving general anesthesia. The rationale for this practice is that the chronic steroid use has suppressed the ability of the endogenous hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal steroid stress-reactivity system to handle the systemic stress of surgery. Whether the stress of treatments is sufficient enough to warrant this practice in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has not been broached in the literature. In this case series, we describe our experience treating 27 ECT patients taking prednisone. We conclude that use of "stress doses" of extra steroid medication is unnecessary in ECT practice and recommend that patients receive their usual morning dose of steroid before ECT treatments.

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