Adjunctive ketamine in electroconvulsive therapy: updated systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background

Ketamine has emerged as a novel therapeutic agent for major depressive episodes, spurring interest in its potential to augment electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Aims

We sought to update our preliminary systematic review and meta-analysis, focusing on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving an index course of ECT, and testing the hypothesis that lack of efficacy is due to barbiturate anaesthetic co-administration.

Method

We searched EMBASE, CENTRAL and Medline to identify RCTs examining the efficacy of ketamine during a course of ECT. Data were synthesised from ten trials (ketamine group n = 333, comparator group n = 269) using pooled random effects models.

Results

Electroconvulsive therapy with ketamine was not associated with greater improvements in depressive symptoms or higher rates of clinical response or remission, nor did it result in pro-cognitive effects. This held true when limiting analysis to trials without barbiturate anaesthetic co-administration. Increased rates of confusion were reported.

Conclusions

Overall, our analyses do not support using ketamine over other induction agents in ECT.

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