, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 142-149

Anesthesia management for electroconvulsive therapy: hemodynamic and respiratory management

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Recent guidelines have stated that anesthesia for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) should be administered by a specially trained anesthesiologist, and that anesthesiologists have overall responsibility, not only for anesthesia itself, but also for cardiopulmonary management and emergency care. Accordingly, anesthesiologists who administer anesthesia for ECT should have sufficient knowledge regarding the physiologically and pharmacologically unique effects of ECT. Electrical current during ECT stimulates the autonomic nervous system and provokes unique hemodynamic changes in systemic and cerebral circulation. Excessive alterations in heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac functions should be prevented by medications with anticholinergic and antihypertensive agents. Ventilation should be adequately maintained to ensure the efficacy of the therapy and to stabilize the hemodynamics immediately after the electrical stimulation. Reports of serious complications of this therapy are not frequent; however, patients with ischemic heart disease or cerebrovascular problems must be managed with special care to prevent myocardial infarction or neurological disorders. Safe physical management by anesthesiologists greatly contributes to the establishment of ECT under muscle relaxation. To maintain social confidence and to refine the therapy, anesthesiologists should play an essential role both in clinical activities and in laboratory research.