Management of Emergency Electroconvulsive Therapy in the Intensive Care Unit for Life-Threatening Psychiatric Conditions: A Case Series

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Abstract

Catatonia can lead to severe complications and may be lethal but is often underdiagnosed. The clinical presentation can be similar to coma. In these situations, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be used as first-line treatment to enable extubation, recovery of autonomy, and rapid discharge from intensive care. We report 4 cases of patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit with comatose clinical presentation and life-threatening condition caused by catatonia. All patients received ECT sessions, after which the catatonic symptoms partially or fully remitted. We discuss the clinical identification, general considerations, ECT feasibility, and parameters in the intensive care unit, as well as the differential diagnosis, drug precautions, and prevention concerns.

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