Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quick recovery of orientation after magnetic seizure therapy for major depressive disorder


MST may replace ECT for treating major depression

Laboratory Talk - UKMagnetic seizure therapy (MST) uses strong, high frequency electromagnetic fields instead of electricity to elicit therapeutic seizures in patients. ...See all stories on this topic

Quick recovery of orientation after magnetic seizure therapy for major depressive disorder

George Kirov, MRCPsych, PhD
Cardiff University, Henry Wellcome Building, Heath Park, Cardiff
Klaus P. Ebmeier, MD, FRCPsych
University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, and Andrew Duncan Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh
Allan I. F. Scott, MB ChB, MBS, MRCPsych, MD
Andrew Duncan Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh
Maria Atkins, MB BS, MRCPsych and Najeeb Khalid, MCPS
Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Cardiff
Lucy Carrick, MB ChB, MBA, MRCPsych and Andrew Stanfield, MB ChB, MRCPsych
Andrew Duncan Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh
Ronan E. O'Carroll, BSc (Hons), MPhil
University of Stirling Department of Psychology, Stirling
Mustafa M. Husain, MD
Neurostimulation Research Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas, USA
Sarah H. Lisanby, BS, MD
Division of Brain Stimulation and Therapeutic Modulation, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, USA

Correspondence: Professor Klaus P. Ebmeier, University of Oxford, Section of Old Age Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. Email:

Magnetic seizure therapy, in which seizures are elicited with a high-frequency magnetic field, is under development as a new treatment for major depressive disorder. Its use may be justified if it produces the antidepressant effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), coupled with limited cognitive side-effects.

To evaluate the usefulness of a new 100 Hz magnetic seizure therapy device.

We induced seizures with 100 Hz magnetic transcranial stimulation in 11 patients with major depressive disorder during one session of a regular course of ECT. Recovery times after seizures induced by magnetic seizure therapy and ECT were compared.

Seizures could be elicited in 10 of the 11 patients. Stimulation over the vertex produced tonic–clonic activity on 9 out of 11 occasions. Stimulation over the prefrontal midpoint elicited seizures on 3 out of 7 occasions.

The mean duration of magnetically induced seizures was 31.3 s, ranging from 10 to 86 s. All patients had an exceptionally quick recovery of orientation: mean of 7 min 12 s (s.d.=2 min 7 s, range 4 min 20 s to 9 min 41 s). The recovery times were on average 15 min 35 s shorter with magnetic seizure therapy than with ECT in the same patients (paired-samples t-test: P<0.0001). Patients reported feeling less confused after magnetic seizure therapy. Side-effects were confined to myoclonic movements, associated with the use of etomidate.

The new 100 Hz magnetic stimulator elicits seizures in the majority of patients when administered over the vertex. Magnetic seizure therapy was associated with shorter recovery times and less confusion following treatment. Subsequent work will be required to assess the safety and effectiveness of magnetic seizure therapy in the treatment of depression.