The effect of remifentanil on seizure duration and acute hemodynamic responses to electroconvulsive therapy

Alejandro Recart, Shivani Rawal, Paul F. White, Stephanie Byerly, Larry Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


We designed this prospective, randomized, doubleblinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study to evaluate the effect of different doses of remifentanil on the acute hemodynamic response and duration of seizure activity after a standardized electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) stimulus. Twenty consenting patients with major depressive disorders receiving maintenance ECT participated in this study. Eighty ECT treatments were evaluated. All patients were premedicated with glycopyrrolate 0.2 mg IV, unconsciousness was induced with methohexital 1 mg/kg IV, and muscle paralysis was produced with succinylcholine 1.2 mg/kg IV. Subsequently, patients received 1 of 3 different doses of remifentanil 25,50, and 100 μg or saline (control) in a random sequence immediately after methohexital at 4 consecutive ECT treatments. Labetalol, in 5-mg IV boluses, was used as a rescue antihypertensive medication. A fixed suprathreshold electrical stimulus was administered to elicit a seizure, and the times from the stimulus to the cessation of the motor and electroencephalographic (EEG) seizure activity were noted. Pre- and post-ECT blood pressure values were significantly decreased in the 100-μg remifentanil group compared with the control group. The durations of motor (38 ± 9 s to 43 ± 15 s) and EEG (55 ± 29 s to 60 ± 21 s) seizure activity were not significantly different among the four groups. Similarly, recovery times to eye opening, obeying commands, and discharge from the recovery room did not differ among the four study groups. The requirement for labetalol after ECT was nonsignificantly decreased in the remifentanil groups. In conclusion, remifentanil 100 μg IV attenuated the acute hemodynamic response to ECT. Furthermore, remifentanil had no adverse effect on the duration of ECT-induced seizure activity. Finally, adjunctive use of remifentanil did not prolong recovery times or increase post-ECT side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1050
Number of pages4
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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