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The Use of Propofol to Prevent Fetal Deceleration During Electroconvulsive Therapy Treatment

De Asis, Sarah Jane MD; Helgeson, Lars MD; Ostroff, Robert MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318290f9e7
Online Articles

Electroconvulsive therapy has been demonstrated to be relatively safe during pregnancy for both the mother and the fetus. One risk to the fetus is cardiac deceleration during the grand mal seizure. We present a case of a young woman in her second trimester of pregnancy with bipolar depression. She had a prolonged seizure on her second electroconvulsive therapy treatment, which led to transient fetal bradycardia that self-corrected as preparations were underway for an emergency cesarean delivery. A change of her anesthetic agent from methohexital to propofol attenuated the seizure duration resulting in the elimination of further events of fetal cardiac deceleration and a successful outcome for both mother and fetus.

From the Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Received for publication December 9, 2012; accepted March 6, 2013.

Reprints: Sarah Jane De Asis, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Day Kimball Hospital, 320 Pomfret St, Putnam, CT 06260 (e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins