A naturalistic comparison of two right unilateral electroconvulsive therapy dosing protocols: 2-3X seizure threshold versus fixed high-dose

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The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes associated with two differing right unilateral (RUL) electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) dosing protocols: 2–3X seizure threshold (2–3X ST) and fixed high dose (FHD) at 353 mC. A retrospective chart review was performed to compare patient outcomes during the implementation of two different dosing protocols: 2–3X ST from October 2000 to May 2001 and FHD from June 2001 to February 2002. A total of 56 patients received ECT under the 2–3X ST protocol, and 46 received ECT under the FHD protocol. In total, 13.6% of patients receiving ECT according to the 2–3X ST protocol received more than 12 ECT, whereas none of the FHD group received more than 12 ECT. The mean number of ECT per treatment course reduced significantly from 7.6 to 5.7 following the switch from the 2–3X ST protocol to the FHD protocol. There were no significant differences between the two groups in the incidence of adverse cognitive effects. ECT practitioners adhered to the 2–3X ST protocol for only 51.8% of ECT courses, with protocol adherence improving to 87% following introduction of the FHD protocol. Although this naturalistic retrospective chart survey had significant methodological limitations, it found that practitioners are more likely to correctly adhere to a fixed dose protocol, therefore, increasing its ‘real world’ effectiveness in comparison to titrated suprathreshold dosing techniques. The FHD protocol was associated with shorter courses of ECT than the 2–3X ST protocol, with no significant difference between the two protocols in clinically discernable adverse cognitive effects.

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