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Acute and Maintenance Electroconvulsive Therapy for Treatment of Severe Major Depression During the Second and Third Trimesters of Pregnancy With Infant Follow-Up to 18 Months: Case Report and Review of the Literature

O'Reardon, John P. MD*; Cristancho, Mario A. MD*; von Andreae, Christoph V. MD; Cristancho, Pilar MD*; Weiss, David MD*

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3181e63160
Online Articles

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered to be a safe and effective treatment in the management of severe mood disorders during pregnancy. Nevertheless, for the clinician in practice, decision making regarding ECT administration in this special population is challenging. This is due both to the risks of untreated or inadequately treated mental illness for the mother and the fetus as well as the risks of complications from ECT itself during pregnancy.

Special measures and modifications of ECT procedures are required to minimize the risk of complications in pregnant patients undergoing ECT. Here we report the successful and safe administration of acute and continuation ECT in a 39-year-old pregnant patient with severe major depression. A total of 18 bilateral-bifrontal treatments were administered in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with presession and postsession fetal monitoring. Following an elective cesarean delivery at 37 weeks of a healthy female infant, a total of 13 additional ECT treatments were administered as maintenance treatment in the first 6 months postpartum during which time the patient was successfully transitioned to antidepressant medication. Development of the child has been assessed as fully normal in all follow-up visits with the pediatrician out to 18 months.

From the *ECT Service, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and †Department of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Received for publication December 10, 2009; accepted March 23, 2010.

Reprints: John P. O'Reardon, MD, Suite 4005, 3535 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.