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Electroconvulsive Therapy in a Terminally Ill Patient: When Every Day of Improvement Counts

Mulder, Marlies E. BSc; Verwey, Bastiaan MD, PhD; van Waarde, Jeroen A. MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3182321181
Case Reports

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is seldom used in a palliative setting. Although literature on the application of ECT in terminally ill patients is sparse, ECT may be useful to rapidly improve the quality of life in these patients. We present the case of a 71-year-old man with metastasized pancreas carcinoma complicated by severe depression. After 3 ECT sessions, the communication between the patient and his family in the last moments of his life improved. We conclude that ECT should be considered to treat mood disorders in terminally ill patients when every day of improvement counts.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands.

Received for publication July 26, 2011; accepted August 8, 2011.

Reprints: Marlies E. Mulder, BSc, Department of Psychiatry, Rijnstate Hospital, PO Box 9555, 6800 TA Arnhem, The Netherlands (e-mail:

No potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.