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Safety of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Patients With Unrepaired Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Report of 8 Patients

Mueller, Paul S. MD*; Albin, Scott M. DO; Barnes, Roxann D. MD; Rasmussen, Keith G. Jr MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e31819a61e5
Original Studies

Objectives: Patients with unrepaired abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) may have depression and other psychiatric disorders for which electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be recommended. It is unclear whether ECT, which transiently, yet markedly, increases blood pressure and heart rate, can be safely performed in patients with AAA. We investigated the safety of ECT in patients with unrepaired AAA.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of the medical records of all patients with unrepaired AAA who underwent ECT for severe depressive syndromes at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, between January 1, 1995, and June 30, 2007.

Results: Eight patients (5 men and 3 women) with unrepaired AAA who underwent ECT were identified. Median age was 78.5 years (range, 67-83 years). All patients had AAA (median diameter, 3.95 cm [range, 3.0-5.2 cm]). The median number of treatments was 8.5 (range, 4-48). None of the patients died during the periprocedural period or experienced symptoms or signs suggestive of AAA expansion or rupture. Follow-up imaging data were available for 6 patients whose median post-ECT AAA diameter was 4.65 cm (range, 3.3-5.3 cm). Expansion of AAA ranged from 0.1 cm (for 11 and 13 months in 2 patients) to 1.0 cm (for 29 months in 1 patient), which is less than the expected mean expansion rates for AAAs of these diameters.

Conclusions: Electroconvulsive therapy was safe for 8 patients with unrepaired AAA treated at our institution. Our findings may be informative to clinicians who manage the care of patients with unrepaired AAA who are undergoing ECT.

From the *Division of General Internal Medicine, Departments of †Psychiatry and Psychology, and ‡Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Received for publication October 14, 2008; accepted December 24, 2008.

Reprints: Paul S. Mueller, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.