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Neuropathological Evaluation of an 84-Year-Old Man After 422 ECT Treatments

Anderson, Danielle MD*; Wollmann, Robert MD, PhD; Dinwiddie, Stephen H. MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0000000000000062
Case Report

Abstract: Concern remains among many that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes “brain damage.” This ambiguous term presumably refers to lesions that could, in principle, be observed either grossly or microscopically in postmortem studies, and the assertion that it occurs appears to be based largely on old reports with dubious relevance to modern practice. Fortunately, using modern technique, ECT is so safe that mortality around the time of treatment is extraordinarily rare and as a result there has been little opportunity for postmortem examination of individuals who had recently had ECT. We report a case in which postmortem brain examination was performed roughly a month after the patient’s last treatment.

From the *Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and Pathology, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

Received for publication May 13, 2013; accepted May 21, 2013.

Reprints: Stephen H. Dinwiddie, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL (e-mail: sdinwidd@nmff.org).

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins