Restoration of postictal cortical activity after electroconvulsive therapy relates to recovery of orientation in person, place and time

Sven Stuiver*, Julia C.M. Pottkämper, Joey P.A.J. Verdijk, Freek Ten Doesschate, Michel J.A.M. Van Putten, Jeannette Hofmeijer, Jeroen A. Van Waarde

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background. Most patients show temporary impairments in clinical orientation after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)-induced seizures. It is unclear how postictal reorientation relates to electroencephalography (EEG) restoration. This relationship may provide additional measures to quantify postictal recovery and shed light on neurophysiological aspects of reorientation after ECT. Methods. We analyzed prospectively collected clinical and continuous ictal and postictal EEG data from ECT patients. Postictal EEG restoration up to 1 h was estimated by the evolution of the normalized alpha–delta ratio (ADR). Times to reorientation in the cognitive domains of person, place, and time were assessed postictally. In each cognitive domain, a linear mixed model was fitted to investigate the relationships between time to reorientation and postictal EEG restoration. Results. In total, 272 pairs of ictal-postictal EEG and reorientation times of 32 patients were included. In all domains, longer time to reorientation was associated with slower postictal EEG recovery. Longer seizure duration and postictal administration of midazolam were related to longer time to reorientation in all domains. At 1-hour post-seizure, most patients were clinically reoriented, while their EEG had only partly restored. Conclusions. We show a relationship between postictal EEG restoration and clinical reorientation after ECT-induced seizures. EEG was more sensitive than reorientation time in all domains to detect postictal recovery beyond 1-hour post-seizure. Our findings indicate that clinical reorientation probably depends on gradual cortical synaptic recovery, with longer seizure duration leading to longer postsynaptic suppression after ECT seizures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date14 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024


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