McLean Hospital – 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478
Once you arrive at the clinic, let the secretary know you are here. You will remain in the waiting area until an ECT nurse brings you to the treatment area.
While in the treatment area, you will be asked to complete some questionnaires on the computer and do a memory assessment with a nurse. The nurse will also ask about your mood and how you’re feeling physically.
If you are an outpatient, the ECT staff will check your weight, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse and make sure that you haven’t had anything to eat or drink. These things will be checked for inpatients while they’re still on the unit, before staff brings them to the ECT clinic.
At your first treatment, the anesthesiologist will review the medical information in the chart and ask some questions before treatment begins.
A nurse will then put medical monitoring equipment on you just before treatment starts. This equipment will measure your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate throughout the treatment. Next, an intravenous (IV) catheter for delivering anesthesia will be placed in your arm or hand. To ensure minimal discomfort, a very small catheter is used.
Anesthesia will be delivered through this catheter. You will fall asleep in less than one minute and will remain anesthetized for 5 to 10 minutes. After you are asleep, you will be given a medication that relaxes your muscles. This reduces body movement when you have the seizure produced by ECT.
You will be in the treatment room for approximately 10 to15 minutes. You will not feel any pain or discomfort during treatment.
The ECT clinician will begin by placing two small stimulating electrodes on your forehead, which will record your brain waves during treatment. While the ECT clinician is delivering mild electrical current to your brain, the anesthesiologist will help you breathe by giving you oxygen through a ventilation mask. During this time you will be under continuous monitoring.
After the treatment is over, you will be moved into the recovery room. Most patients will wake up a few minutes after they’ve arrived in the recovery room.
Your nurse will stay with you throughout your recovery and will continue to check your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and oxygen level. A plastic oxygen mask will be placed over your nose and mouth to give you additional oxygen until you are wide-awake. When you first wake up, you might be slightly confused. This is a normal reaction to treatment. After about 30 minutes, you will be ready for something to drink. Soon afterward, if you are staying in the hospital, staff from your unit will pick you up and bring you back to the unit in a wheelchair. This is just a safety precaution.
After spending 45 minutes in the recovery room, outpatients will need to spend the next hour and 15 minutes in the recovery lounge. (Most patients are ready to leave two hours after treatment.) Just before it is time for you to leave, a nurse will check your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. A clinician will also evaluate you at this time. Finally, you will be given discharge instructions and an appointment for your next treatment.