Original ArticlesLaboratory Screening Prior to ECTLafferty, Julie E. M.D.*; North, Carol S. M.D.*; Spitznagel, Edward Ph.D.†; Isenberg, Keith M.D.*Author Information *Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, and †Department of Mathematics, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. Received May 16, 2000; accepted January 11, 2001. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. K. Isenberg, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University Medical Center, Campus Box 8134, 660 S. Euclid St., St. Louis, MO 63110-1093, U.S.A. The Journal of ECT: September 2001 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 158-165 Buy Abstract Introduction Screening for occult disease using laboratory testing prior to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a common practice with little empirical support. Method In a pre-ECT and post-ECT sample of 73 and 562 (respectively) patients evaluated for ECT, the utility of the electrocardiogram, serum sodium, serum potassium, serum creatinine, chest radiograph, hemoglobin level, and white blood cell count was examined. Results and Discussion Reviewing the electrocardiogram and measuring sodium and potassium levels prior to the administration of ECT appear to be useful screening tests because they detect correctable unexpected conditions that are relevant to the risk of the procedure. Hemoglobin and white blood cell count abnormalities did not influence the administration of ECT or predict ECT complications. An abnormal creatinine level or abnormal chest radiograph prior to the administration of ECT predicted a poor medical prognosis that appeared largely unrelated to the administration of ECT. © 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.