Myoclonus After Cardiac Arrest: Pitfalls in Diagnosis and Prognosis

Anaesthesia. 2009 Aug;64(8):908-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2009.05939.x.


Accurate prediction of neurological outcome in survivors of cardiac arrest may be difficult. We report the case of a 44-year-old survivor of a hypoxic cardiac arrest who repeatedly developed relentless myoclonic jerks on attempted discontinuation of his propofol infusion. These were initially thought to represent myoclonic status epilepticus before the correct diagnosis of Lance-Adams syndrome was made. Lance-Adams syndrome is a rare disorder seen in survivors of profound hypoxic episodes. It is characterised by intention myoclonus but preserved intellect. Accurate distinction between myoclonic status epilepticus and Lance-Adams syndrome is vital as they have very different prognoses. The different pathophysiology and distinguishing clinical features of these two conditions are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Heart Arrest / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Male
  • Myoclonus / diagnosis
  • Myoclonus / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Status Epilepticus / diagnosis
  • Syndrome