Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and efficient treatment for several severe psychiatric disorders, but its use is limited by side effects. Post-ECT headache is one of the commonest side effects. Preemptive analgesia is effective in post-surgical pain management. The most commonly used analgesic is acetaminophen (paracetamol). However, acetaminophen as a preemptive analgesic for post-ECT headache has not been studied adequately. This study was conducted to compare the incidence and severity of post-ECT headache in patients who were administered acetaminophen pre-ECT with a placebo group.
This study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Sixty-three patients received 1 g acetaminophen and 63 patients received a placebo identical to acetaminophen. The incidence and severity of headache 2 h before and after ECT were compared between placebo and acetaminophen groups. The severity was measured using a visual analog scale. Generalised linear models were used to evaluate variables associated with post ECT headache.
Demographic and clinical variables of placebo and acetaminophen groups were comparable except for the energy level used to induce a seizure. Higher proportion of the placebo group (71.4%) experienced post-ECT headache when compared to the acetaminophen group (p < 0.001). The median pain score for headache was 0 (Inter quartile range: 0–2) in acetaminophen group whereas the score was 2 (IQR: 0–4) in placebo group (P < 0.001). Model fitting showed that the administration of acetaminophen is associated with less post-ECT headache (odds ratio = 0.23, 95% CI: 0.11–0.48, P < 0.001).
A significant reduction was seen in both the incidence and severity of post-ECT headache with preemptive analgesia with acetaminophen.
Ethical approval was granted by an Ethic review committee, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka (P/166/10/2015) and the trial was registered in the Sri Lanka Clinical Trials Registry (SLCTR/2015/27).
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- A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the role of preemptive analgesia with acetaminophen [paracetamol] in reducing headache following electroconvulsive therapy [ECT]
- BioMed Central
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