Kiran Rabheru, MD, CCFP, FRCP, ABPN, Physician Leader, Geriatric Psychiatry Program, Regional Mental Health Care; Chair, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective and relatively safe procedure for treating severe, treatment-refractory mood disorders in special populations, particularly in the elderly. The frail elderly are especially good candidates for ECT because they are often unresponsive to, or intolerant of, psychotropic medications. The central nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory systems require special attention during the course of ECT. With modern anesthesia techniques and careful medical management of each high-risk patient, most elderly can successfully complete a course of ECT. Obtaining informed consent for ECT from incapable patients is a challenging issue with few concrete guidelines.
Key words: electroconvulsive therapy, elderly, depression, special patient population.