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September 1955

Psychiatric Complications of Mitral Surgery: Report of Death After Electroshock Therapy

Author Affiliations

West Haven, Conn.; Salt Lake City

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1955;74(3):249-252. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330150015002

We became aware that major psychiatric disturbances might complicate mitral surgery when two postoperative patients developed severe schizophrenic reactions. Both were hospitalized on the psychiatric service and treated with electroshock. The first patient responded dramatically and rapidly recovered. The second developed a respiratory arrest after the third electroshock treatment and died.

The appearance of two schizophrenic reactions after mitral surgery prompted us to review the clinical records of all 37 adult patients who had undergone the operation at the Latter-Day Saints Hospital to determine the frequency of major psychiatric complications. Psychological data on these patients were understandably sparse, since the surgical staff had been concerned primarily with the difficult medical and surgical problems posed and had not anticipated any important emotional upsets. Nevertheless, despite the paucity of psychiatric information, the number of major psychiatric disorders reported in the clinical records was impressive.

It was felt that these findings might be