A randomized comparison of ketamine versus methohexital anesthesia in electroconvulsive therapy

Keith G. Rasmussen, Simon Kung, Maria I. Lapid, Tyler S. Oesterle, Jennifer R. Geske, Gregory A. Nuttall, William C. Oliver, John P. Abenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


To assess the clinical utility of ketamine as an anesthetic agent for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), based upon recent findings that ketamine may have antidepressant properties. Depressed ECT patients were randomly assigned to receive anesthesia with either ketamine or methohexital. Outcome measures included assessments of depressive severity, cognition, post-anesthesia side effects, and hemodynamics. Twenty one patients were treated with ketamine and 17 with methohexital. There were no significant differences in depression or cognitive outcomes between the two drugs. Additionally, there were no measures of post-anesthesia tolerability or hemodynamics which favored ketamine. Ketamine anesthesia does not accelerate the antidepressant effect of ECT or diminish the cognitive side effects, at least as measured in this study. Furthermore, there is no apparent benefit of ketamine for speed or quality of post-ECT recovery, and it is associated with higher systolic blood pressures after the treatments. Ketamine is associated with longer motor seizure duration than methohexital.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-365
Number of pages4
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2014


  • Anesthesia
  • Cognition
  • Hemodynamics
  • Major depression
  • Mood disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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