Measuring Blood Flow in the Brain After Epileptic Activity (SYNAPSE)

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  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Rijnstate Hospital
Updated on 26 February 2022
depressed mood
depressive episode
electroconvulsive therapy


In this clinical trial, postictal phenomena (i.e., headache, delirium) will be investigated after administration of acetaminophen and nimodipine in depressed patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Postictal phenomena are thought to result from decreased cerebral blood flow and decreased oxygen concentration in the brain. It is expected that acetaminophen and nimodipine will reduce these postictal phenomena, compared to no treatment, because they target these mechanisms.


Postictal phenomena, such as sensory, motor or memory deficits, headache, delirium, and psychosis, are common manifestations after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) induced seizures. Also, postictal phenomena add to the burden of seizures in patients with epilepsy. The pathophysiology of these phenomena is poorly understood and effective treatments are not available (Fisher RS, 2000; Krauss & Theodore, 2010). Recently, seizure-induced postictal vasoconstriction with cerebral hypoperfusion was observed in experimentally induced seizures in rats. Treatment with acetaminophen or calcium antagonists decreased hypoperfusion and postictal phenomena (Farrell, 2016, 2017).

The objective of this research is to study the effect of acetaminophen and nimodipine to reduce postictal phenomena after ECT induced seizures.

A prospective, three conditions crossover trial will be conducted, with randomized condition allocation, open-label treatment, and blinded end-point evaluation (PROBE design; Hansson, Hedner, & Dahlof, 1992).

Thirty-three adult (age >17 years) patients referred to treatment with ECT for a depressive episode will be included to achieve a statistical power of .80. This will be feasible in one year.

A single dose of nimodipine (60 mg) or acetaminophen (1000 mg) or no additional treatment will be given prior to a maximum of 12 ECT-sessions per patient. Patients will be randomly assigned to predefined treatment sequences. EEG and MRI measures will serve as main outcome measures, as well as psychometric tests.

Data will be stored on two separate hard disks, one including patient sensitive information for identification, the other with anonymized data only (for the sponsor).

Patients will be recruited by doctors at Rijnstate Hospital Arnhem. A mixed model with repeated measurements analysis will be conducted for the primary outcome measures.

Condition Epilepsy, Depression, Postictal Delirium, Electroconvulsive Therapy
Treatment Paracetamol, Nimotop, Nimotop
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04028596
SponsorRijnstate Hospital
Last Modified on26 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Adulthood (age > 17 years)
Current clinical diagnosis of depressive episode (unipolar, bipolar, schizoaffective)
Willingness and ability to give written informed consent and willingness and ability to understand, to participate and to comply with the study requirements

Exclusion Criteria

Known adverse or allergic reactions to acetaminophen or nimodipine
Chronic use of acetaminophen, calcium-antagonists or NSAID's that cannot be interrupted for less than two days before the ECT-session
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