What are the morbidity and mortality risks associated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

Updated: Sep 24, 2019
  • Author: Mehul V Mankad, MD; Chief Editor: Dennis M Popeo, MD  more...
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In general, ECT is an exceedingly safe procedure. The morbidity and mortality risks of ECT should be weighed against the acute and chronic risks of medications often used in patients with treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders. The same risks should also be weighed against the risk to the patient of continued symptoms of their treatment-resistant psychiatric disorder. Cardiovascular complications (eg, arrhythmias [95] ) and pulmonary complications are the leading causes of mortality due to ECT. [1]  The mortality rate for ECT is estimated to be 1 per 10,000 to 1 per 80,000 treatments. This rate is about the same as that associated with minor surgery. [1] The mortality rate may be higher in patients with severe medical disorders. [1]

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