Customized anesthetic preservation of ictal threshold in electroconvulsive therapy: Role of adjunctive remifentanil with etomidate

John G. Augoustides, Hetal H. Hosalkar, John P. O'Reardon, W. Andrew Kofke, Catherine J. Datto

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7 Scopus citations


We present a case of anesthesia for electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy that was complicated by emetic sensitivity to etomidate, fragile ictal threshold, and mild pseudocholinesterase deficiency. The anesthetic was designed in this patient taking all his issues in consideration. The mild pseudocholinesterase deficiency necessitated a (50-75%) reduction in succinylcholine dosage, careful monitoring of the train of four, and postictal amnestic coverage to prevent paralysis upon waking. The significant emetic response to etomidate prompted substitution to propofol and preemptive ondansetron. Propofol significantly raised the ictal threshold but significantly reduced the postprocedural emesis. Eventually, this clinical challenge was resolved with adjunctive use of low-dose etomidate and remifentanil. This combination preserved the ictal parameters, providing patient comfort, good clinical response, and therapeutic efficacy. Although seizure duration and quality often are restored with hyperventilation and caffeine, this case necessitated a return to etomidate for the restoration of satisfactory ictal parameters. Although this effect of remifentanil has been described with methohexital, and etomidate with alfentanil, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of adjunctive remifentanil with etomidate for preserving ictal threshold. The outpatient course of ECT was thus completed with all psychiatric and anesthetic goals satisfied: adequate seizure quality and duration, no paralysis upon waking, no post-ECT nausea and vomiting, and patient satisfaction. Anesthesiologists should be aware of factors influencing the seizure duration and, keeping in mind the coexisting medical conditions of the patient, adjustments should be made to get the best possible outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-131
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of ECT
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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