[Catatonia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome: two disorders on a same spectrum? Three case reports]

Federica Luchini, Lorenzo Lattanzi, Natalia Bartolommei, Luca Cosentino, Francesco Casamassima, Antonella Litta, Mauro Mauri, Giovanni Battista Cassano
Rivista di Psichiatria 2012, 47 (2): 178-85

AIM: The authors present the cases of three bipolar patients who developed Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) after antipsychotic treatment, both typical and atypical, focusing on relationship between NMS and catatonia.

METHODS: In all three cases, administration of antipsychotics has been stopped at once, when fever and autonomic disturbances occurred. A supportive therapy (including rehydration, electrolyte restoration and blood pressure aids, together with antipyretics, antibiotics and anticoagulants) was prescribed in order to stabilize general conditions. Every patient started then Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in combination with benzodiazepines.

RESULTS: High risk of complications and lethal outcome, associated with NMS, were successfully reduced by the tempestive adoption of a supportive care, while combination between ECT and BDZ was effective in resolution of clinical picture. DISCUSSIONS; These cases may provide further evidences about hypothesis of catatonia and NMS as disorders on the same spectrum. In one patient, NMS occurred overlapping with a previous catatonic state, while two others exhibited catatonic features after resolution of NMS. However, catatonic symptoms arose or worsened with administration of antipsychotics, supporting hypothesis of neuroleptic-induced catatonia as a step of progressive development of NMS. Our experience also confirms efficacy and safety of ECT in combination with BDZ as treatment of NMS and residual catatonia.

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