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Expanded Safety and Efficacy Data for a New Method of Performing Electroconvulsive Therapy: Focal Electrically Administered Seizure Therapy

Sahlem, Gregory L. MD; Short, E. Baron MD, MSCR; Kerns, Suzanne MBBS; Snipes, Jon MD; DeVries, William BS; Fox, James B. MD; Burns, Carol MSN, APRN; Schmidt, Matthew MA; Nahas, Ziad H. MD; George, Mark S. MD; Sackeim, Harold A. PhD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0000000000000328
Original Studies

Objective Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most rapid and effective antidepressant treatment but with concerns about cognitive adverse effects. A new form of ECT, focal electrically administered seizure therapy (FEAST), was designed to increase the focality of stimulation and better match stimulus parameters with neurophysiology. We recently reported on the safety and feasibility of FEAST in a cohort (n = 17) of depressed patients. We now report on the safety, feasibility, preliminary efficacy, and cognitive effects of FEAST in a new cohort.

Methods Open-label FEAST was administered to 20 depressed adults (6 men; 3 with bipolar disorder; age 49.1 ± 10.6 years). Clinical and cognitive assessments were obtained at baseline and end of course. Time to orientation recovery was assessed at each treatment. Nonresponders switched to conventional ECT.

Results Participants tolerated the treatment well with no dropouts. Five patients (25%) transitioned from FEAST to conventional ECT due to inadequate response. After FEAST (mean, 9.3 ± 3.5 sessions; range, 4–14), there was a 58.1% ± 36.0% improvement in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores compared with that in the baseline (P < 0.0001); 13 (65%) of 20 patients met response criteria, and 11 (55%) of 20 met remission criteria. Patients achieved reorientation (4 of 5 items) in 4.4 ± 3.0 minutes (median, 4.5 minutes), timed from eyes opening. There was no deterioration in neuropsychological measures.

Conclusions These findings provide further support for the safety and efficacy of FEAST. The remission and response rates were in the range found using conventional ECT, and the time to reorientation may be quicker. However, without a randomized comparison group, conclusions are tentative.

From the *Brain Stimulation Division, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC; Departments of †Psychiatry and ‡Radiology, Columbia University, New York, NY; §Department of Psychiatry, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon; and ∥Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, SC.

Received for publication November 24, 2015; accepted March 31, 2016.

Reprints: Gregory L. Sahlem, MD, Brain Stimulation Division, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina, 67 President St, 502 N, Charleston, SC 29425 (e-mail:

This study was supported in part by an unrestricted educational grant from the MECTA Corporation. The MECTA Corporation also provided a custom-modified MECTA spECTrum 5000Q device. Dr Sackeim is the inventor on a patent for FEAST (US8712532 B2) and serves as a consultant to the MECTA Corporation and Neuronetics, Inc. All other authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

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