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Clinical Trial Summary

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains the gold-standard treatment for patients with depressive episodes. During a typical four-week ECT series, most depressive episodes will respond to treatment and people will improve their level of functioning (return to work or family). Independent of the antidepressant effect of ECT, many patients experience transient memory impairment. This investigation will examine the impact of one ECT parameter (pulse amplitude or current) on brain changes (structure of connections within the brain) and clinical outcomes. The goal of this investigation is to determine the optimal parameter for an individual patient that will maintain the clinical response (reduce depression severity) and minimize side effects (eliminate memory issues related to treatment).

Clinical Trial Description

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains the gold-standard treatment for patients with depressive episodes. During a typical four-week ECT series, most depressive episodes remit, and formerly suicidal or psychotically depressed patients will resume their premorbid levels of functioning. Independent of the antidepressant effect of ECT, many patients experience debilitating but transient cognitive effects such as attention and memory deficits. These unwanted side effects are particularly troubling for older patients who are more likely to have existing cognitive deficits. Both the stimulus delivery (electrode placement, pulse amplitude, and pulse width) and seizure induction appear to work in synergy, but the underlying mechanism of action for successful response has yet to be fully elucidated. Moreover, further work is needed to understand the relationship between clinical improvement and cognitive impairment. This investigation will examine the clinical and neurocognitive impact of targeted medial temporal lobe engagement as a function of pulse amplitude, one of several variable factors influencing the ECT charge. The ECT charge is measured in millicoulombs (mC) and derived from multiplying pulse train duration, pulse-pair frequency, pulse width, and pulse amplitude. Pulse amplitude determines the induced electric field strength in the brain and is presently fixed at 900 milliamperes (mA) with no clinical or scientific justification. The central hypothesis of this investigation is that the optimal pulse amplitude for an individual patient will enhance neuroplasticity (clinical response) while minimizing the disruption of dominant hemisphere hippocampal cognitive circuitry (resulting in cognitive stability). The preliminary data informs the dosage range between 600 and 800 mA. Pulse amplitudes outside of this range compromise efficacy (500 mA) or may increase risk of cognitive impairment (900 mA). The first aim of this investigation will identify the electric field strength and neuroplasticity associated with clinical response. Critically, this aim will establish the neuroplasticity threshold, which is defined as the electric field strength necessary to induce neuroplasticity. The second aim will detect the neural correlates of ECT-mediated cognitive changes, which may be related to disrupted dominant hemisphere long-term potentiation. The third aim will use data-driven dual regression to predict the optimal pulse amplitude for an individual patient. This contribution will be significant because the electric field, when manipulated by pulse amplitude, can subsequently maximize hippocampal neuroplasticity (efficacy) and minimize disrupted connectivity (cognitive stability) thus improving clinical outcomes. ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT02999269
Study type Interventional
Source University of New Mexico
Status Completed
Phase Phase 4
Start date October 2016
Completion date March 23, 2020

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