Laboratory screening prior to ECT

Julie E. Lafferty, Carol S North, Edward Spitznagel, Keith Isenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Screening for occult disease using laboratory testing prior to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a common practice with little empirical support. Method: In a pre-ECT and post-ECT sample of 73 and 562 (respectively) patients evaluated for ECT, the utility of the electrocardiogram, serum sodium, serum potassium, serum creatinine, chest radiograph, hemoglobin level, and white blood cell count was examined. Results and Discussion: Reviewing the electrocardiogram and measuring sodium and potassium levels prior to the administration of ECT appear to be useful screening tests because they detect correctable unexpected conditions that are relevant to the risk of the procedure. Hemoglobin and white blood cell count abnormalities did not influence the administration of ECT or predict ECT complications. An abnormal creatinine level or abnormal chest radiograph prior to the administration of ECT predicted a poor medical prognosis that appeared largely unrelated to the administration of ECT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of ECT
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 21 2001


  • Complete blood count
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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