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Electroconvulsive Therapy in Adolescents With the Catatonia Syndrome: Efficacy and Ethics

Consoli, Angèle MD, PhD*; Benmiloud, Maha MD; Wachtel, Lee MD; Dhossche, Dirk MD, PhD§; Cohen, David MD, PhD*†; Bonnot, Olivier MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3181fb3924

Objectives: In child and adolescent psychiatry, catatonia is infrequent, but it is one of the most severe syndromes, characterized by the coexistence of psychic and motor symptoms. In this report, we explore the therapeutic experience with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in adolescents with catatonia.

Methods: We review the literature (1985-2009) to clarify issues related to the use of ECT in child and adolescent patients with catatonia.

Results: Electroconvulsive therapy is used as second-line management after high-dose benzodiazepine trials. Electroconvulsive therapy is an effective, safe, and useful procedure in the treatment of catatonic youngsters as reported in 59 patients. Ethical issues regarding the use of ECT are analyzed and their implications briefly discussed in the light of general medical ethics.

Conclusions: Electroconvulsive therapy is a safe and effective treatment for catatonia in children and adolescents.

From the *Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Université Pierre etMarie Curie, APHP, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière; †CNRS UMR 7222, Institut de Systemes Intelligents et Robotiques Paris, France; ‡Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; and §Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS.

Received for publication August 24, 2010; accepted September 2, 2010.

Reprints: David Cohen, MD, PhD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, APHP, CNRS, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, 47-83 Bd de l'Hôpital, F-75651 Paris cedex 13, France (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.