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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Answer

Answer

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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