Changes in postictal cerebral perfusion are related to the duration of electroconvulsive therapy-induced seizures

Julia C.M. Pottkämper*, Joey P.A.J. Verdijk, Eva Aalbregt, Sven Stuiver, Laurens van de Mortel, David G. Norris, Michel J.A.M. van Putten, Jeannette Hofmeijer, Guido A. van Wingen, Jeroen A. van Waarde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective: Postictal symptoms may result from cerebral hypoperfusion, which is possibly a consequence of seizure-induced vasoconstriction. Longer seizures have previously been shown to cause more severe postictal hypoperfusion in rats and epilepsy patients. We studied cerebral perfusion after generalized seizures elicited by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and its relation to seizure duration. Methods: Patients with a major depressive episode who underwent ECT were included. During treatment, 21-channel continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired before the ECT course (baseline) and approximately 1 h after an ECT-induced seizure (postictal) to quantify global and regional gray matter cerebral blood flow (CBF). Seizure duration was assessed from the period of epileptiform discharges on the EEG. Healthy controls were scanned twice to assess test–retest variability. We performed hypothesis-driven Bayesian analyses to study the relation between global and regional perfusion changes and seizure duration. Results: Twenty-four patients and 27 healthy controls were included. Changes in postictal global and regional CBF were correlated with seizure duration. In patients with longer seizure durations, global decrease in CBF reached values up to 28 mL/100 g/min. Regional reductions in CBF were most prominent in the inferior frontal gyrus, cingulate gyrus, and insula (up to 35 mL/100 g/min). In patients with shorter seizures, global and regional perfusion increased (up to 20 mL/100 g/min). These perfusion changes were larger than changes observed in healthy controls, with a maximum median global CBF increase of 12 mL/100 g/min and a maximum median global CBF decrease of 20 mL/100 g/min. Significance: Seizure duration is a key factor determining postictal perfusion changes. In future studies, seizure duration needs to be considered as a confounding factor due to its opposite effect on postictal perfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 16 Nov 2023


  • arterial spin labeling
  • cerebral blood flow
  • depression
  • epilepsy
  • seizure duration
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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