Computational comparison of conventional and novel electroconvulsive therapy electrode placements for the treatment of depression.


School of Psychiatry, UNSW, NSW 2052, Australia; Black Dog Institute, NSW 2031, Australia; Department of Psychiatry, St George Hospital, NSW 2217, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective treatment for severe psychiatric disorders. Despite its high efficacy, the use of ECT would be greater if the risk of cognitive side effects were reduced. Over the last 20 years, developments in ECT technique, including improvements in the dosing methodology and modification of the stimulus waveform, have allowed for improved treatment methods with reduced adverse cognitive effects. There is increasing evidence that the electrode placement is important for orienting the electrical stimulus and therefore modifying treatment outcomes, with potential for further improvement of the placements currently used in ECT.
OBJECTIVE : We used computational modelling to perform an in-depth examination into regional differences in brain excitation by the ECT stimulus for several lesser known and novel electrode placements, in order to investigate the potential for an electrode placement that may optimise clinical outcomes.
METHODS : High resolution finite element human head models were generated from MRI scans of three subjects. The models were used to compare regional differences in average electric field (EF) magnitude among a total of thirteen bipolar ECT electrode placements, i.e. three conventional placements as well as ten lesser known and novel placements.
CONCLUSIONS : In this exploratory study on a systemic comparison of thirteen ECT electrode placements, the EF magnitude at regions of interest (ROIs) was highly dependent upon the position of both electrodes, especially the ROIs close to the cortical surface. Compared to conventional right-unilateral (RUL) ECT using a temporo-parietal placement, fronto-parietal and supraorbito-parietal RUL also robustly stimulated brain regions considered important for efficacy, while sparing regions related to cognitive functions, and may be a preferrable approach to the currently used placement for RUL ECT. The simulations also found that regional average EF magnitude varied between individual subjects, due to factors such as head size, and results also depended on the size of the defined ROI.


Brain stimulation,Computational model,Depression,Efficacy,Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT),Electrode placement,

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