CONVULSIVE THERAPY continues to be one of the mainstays of treatment for hospitalized psychiatric patients. Most clinicians concede that the benefits of this form of somatic treatment outweigh its disadvantages and that even the most recent of pharmacologic and other advanced methods of therapeutic management cannot replace it. Still, convulsive treatment has many drawbacks including an unknown mode of action, a sometimes temporary and unpredictable effectiveness, often unsatisfactory patient acceptance, and prominent side effects. Over the years many efforts have been made to modify convulsive treatment in hopes of avoiding or minimizing some of these problems. Most present day variations include atropine, barbiturate, and muscle relaxant premedications, and the electrical induction of seizures.
There have been a number of recent reports which suggest that the use of an inhaled gas, hexafluorodiethyl ether or flurothyl (Indoklon), for the induction of convulsions may