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Ketamine as an Anaesthetic Agent in Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

This study has been completed.
Wesley Hospitals
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Colleen Loo, The University of New South Wales Identifier:
First received: May 16, 2008
Last updated: March 27, 2013
Last verified: March 2013

Research into the mechanisms underlying memory impairment in ECT suggests that its development may be prevented by the administration of certain medications at the time of ECT treatment. For example there are reasons to believe that ketamine, also used as an anaesthetic agent, may have such protective properties.

In this clinical study patients undergoing a course of ECT will be offered the opportunity to receive a small dose of ketamine (or a placebo) as part of their anaesthetic at the time of ECT treatment. Mood changes and any memory changes will be evaluated to see if the subjects who received ketamine had less memory side effects than those who did not, while still improving their depression.

Condition Intervention Phase
Major Depressive Episode Drug: Ketamine Drug: Saline Phase 4

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Triple (Participant, Care Provider, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Double-blind Randomised, Placebo-controlled Study of Adjunctive Ketamine Anaesthesia in ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Colleen Loo, The University of New South Wales:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Memory tests [ Time Frame: Before ECT, after 6 ECT treatments, at the end of the ECT course ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Depression rating scale [ Time Frame: Before ECT, after each week of treatment, at the end of the ECT course ]

Enrollment: 83
Study Start Date: April 2008
Study Completion Date: October 2012
Primary Completion Date: October 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Active
Drug: Ketamine
Ketamine IV will be administered after the administration of the normal anaesthetic agents for ECT.
Placebo Comparator: Placebo
Saline (placebo)
Drug: Saline
Saline (placebo) will be administered after the normal anaesthetic agents in ECT.

Detailed Description:

This study will report on two related trials. In the outpatient trial, patients will be administered adjunctive ketamine at two different doses (0.25mg/kg; 0.5mg/kg), and a placebo (saline), across 3 consecutive sessions within their regular maintenance ECT course. The order of conditions will be randomised across participants. Patients will be required to learn some words and faces 20 minutes prior to ECT, and complete a detailed cognitive battery 4 hours after ECT on each of the 3 occasions. The purpose of this trial is to determine whether ketamine is superior to placebo in reducing cognitive impairment following ECT and what the optimal dose of ketamine is for minimising cognitive and other side effects. Projected sample for this trial is N = 17.

In the inpatient trial, patients will be randomly assigned to receive ketamine or placebo for the duration of the acute ECT course. Patients will be administered a detailed cognitive battery the day before commencing ECT treatment, the day after the 6th treatment, and 1-3 days and 1 month following the end of the acute ECT course. The purpose of this trial is to examine whether patients in the ketamine condition had superior cognitive outcomes to those in the placebo condition during and following a course of ECT. In addition, depressive symptomatology will be examined throughout the ECT course to determine whether ketamine anaesthesia during ECT has antidepressant, as well as, cognitive benefits. Projected sample for this trial is N = 34.

This entry gives details of the main clinical trial: The effects of ketamine across a course of ECT.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Satisfy DSM-IV-TR criteria for Major Depressive Episode
  • 18 years or over
  • Does not have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, rapid cycling bipolar disorder, or current psychotic symptoms
  • No known sensitivity to ketamine
  • No ECT in the last 3 months
  • No drug or alcohol abuse in the last 12 months
  • Able to give informed consent
  • Score at least 24 on Mini Mental State Examination
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00680433

Australia, New South Wales
Wesley Hospital
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2217
Sponsors and Collaborators
Northside Clinic, Australia
Wesley Hospitals
Principal Investigator: Colleen K Loo, MB BS FRANZCP, MD University of New South Wales
  More Information

Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: Colleen Loo, Associate Professor, The University of New South Wales Identifier: NCT00680433     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: HREC 07281
Study First Received: May 16, 2008
Last Updated: March 27, 2013

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder, Major
Depressive Disorder
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders
Central Nervous System Depressants
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Sensory System Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Anesthetics, Dissociative
Anesthetics, Intravenous
Anesthetics, General
Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
Neurotransmitter Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action processed this record on September 25, 2017