Effectiveness of Bifrontal ECT in Practice: A Comparison with Bitemporal ECT

Viswanath, Biju; Narayanaswamy, Janardhanan C.; Thirthalli, Jagadisha; Gangadhar, B. N.
January 2011
Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine;Jan-Jun2011, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p66
Academic Journal
Background: Bifrontal (BF) placement of electrodes in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has emerged as an alternative option to the conventional bitemporal (BT) and right unilateral electrode placement in view of fewer cognitive adverse effects. However, the results have been contradictory in terms of clinical efficacy. Materials and Methods: We studied the records of all patients referred for ECT between the months of August 2008 and July 2010 (n=1575). One hundred and five of these patients had received BF-ECT. These records were compared with the records of 105 patients who received BT-ECT. For each patient who received BF-ECT, the very next person posted for BT-ECT was taken as the control. All patients received bilateral ECTs at 1.5-times the threshold stimulus dose. The number of ECTs administered, duration of hospital stay after ECT initiation, seizure threshold and failure to achieve adequate seizures were compared. Two raters who achieved good inter-rater reliability assessed the initial severity using the clinical global impression scale and clinical improvement using a Likert scale. Results: The speed of response, as assessed by the number of ECTs received and the duration of hospital stay after ECT initiation was similar in the two groups. In addition, both groups were comparable in terms of clinical improvement scores on the Likert scale. BF-ECT patients also had a significantly higher seizure threshold, which remained significant in spite of controlling for age. This study is chart based, with its inherent limitations. Standard outcome measures were not used. Cognitive adverse effects were not studied. Conclusions: BF-ECT performed similar to BT-ECT with regard to therapeutic efficacy. Given the consistent results of the former, with fewer cognitive side-effects, the findings of the present study support BF-ECT as the first line for electrode application.


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