Adjunctive ketamine in electroconvulsive therapy: Updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Alexander McGirr, Marcelo T. Berlim, David J. Bond, Peter Y. Chan, Lakshmi N. Yatham, Raymond W. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background Ketamine has emerged as a novel therapeutic agent for major depressive episodes, spurring interest in its potential to augment electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Aims We sought to update our preliminary systematic review and meta-analysis, focusing on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving an index course of ECT, and testing the hypothesis that lack of efficacy is due to barbiturate anaesthetic co-administration. Method We searched EMBASE, CENTRAL and Medline to identify RCTs examining the efficacy of ketamine during a course of ECT. Data were synthesised from ten trials (ketamine group n = 333, comparator group n = 269) using pooled random effects models. Results Electroconvulsive therapy with ketamine was not associated with greater improvements in depressive symptoms or higher rates of clinical response or remission, nor did it result in pro-cognitive effects. This held true when limiting analysis to trials without barbiturate anaesthetic co-administration. Increased rates of confusion were reported. Conclusions Overall, our analyses do not support using ketamine over other induction agents in ECT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-407
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2017.


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