The Effect of Repeated Etomidate Anesthesia on Adrenocortical Function During a Course of Electroconvulsive Therapy

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Etomidate may affect adrenocortical function. We conducted an investigation of the comparative effects of etomidate and propofol during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on adrenocortical function and hemodynamics.


Patients in group T received etomidate and those in group B received propofol during intravenous anesthesia in ECT. Patients underwent ECT once every 2 days for 6 times. The serum levels of cortisol (Cor) and adrenocorticotropic hormone were determined 5 minutes before first anesthesia (baseline level, D0), and 24 hours (D1) as well as 48 hours after the last ECT (D2). At the same time, the hemodynamics was measured 2 minutes before anesthetic induction (T0), 30 seconds (T1) and 20 minutes after ECT (T2). Electrographic seizure duration (t), average seizure energy index, and postictal suppression index were recorded.


Compared with the baseline level, serum Cor levels in group T were markedly decreased, but in normal ranges, at 24 hours after second and sixth treatments. No significant difference in serum Cor level was observed between the baseline and 48 hours posttreatment. In group B, there was no significant difference in serum Cor level between the baseline and 24 hours as well as 48 hours after each treatment. Furthermore, no significant difference in adrenocorticotropic hormone level was observed between the baseline and 24 hours as well as 48 hours posttreatment. However, the hemodynamics markedly changed during ECT and reached the preanesthetic level at 20 minutes posttreatment. The ECT-induced seizure duration in group T was longer than that in group B. However, seizure energy index and postictal suppression index was not significantly different between groups T and B.


Etomidate and propofol would not affect the adrenocortical function during ECT, and hemodynamics reached normal level in a short time after ECT. Etomidate and propofol were both safe intravenous anesthetics during ECT, although etomidate was associated with comparatively longer seizure duration.

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