Evaluation and treatment of acute psychosis in children with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): consultation-liaison service experiences at a tertiary-care pediatric institution

Psychosomatics. 2010 Nov-Dec;51(6):508-14. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.51.6.508.


Background: Neurological and psychiatric manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are prevalent in children with SLE. There are few data on the evaluation and management of psychotic features in children with this systemic autoimmune disorder.

Objective: The authors describe contemporary Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation and Liaison service management of acute psychosis in children with lupus.

Method: The authors reviewed the records (2003-2008) of all pediatric SLE inpatients who were administered a traditional or atypical antipsychotic agent. They describe clinical features, initial and discharge mental status examinations, and inpatient psychotropic medication usage.

Results: Ten pediatric SLE patients (age 10-19 years) required psychiatric management for psychosis during the review period. Paranoid delusions (70%), visual hallucinations (60%), and auditory hallucinations (60%) were the most common psychotic symptoms documented. All children were initially treated with an antipsychotic medication. Seven children were maintained on an atypical antipsychotic during their hospitalization. Two children had extrapyramidal signs, but no other adverse events were documented. All children were improved at discharge, and 40% had complete resolution of psychosis; 8 of the 10 patients were discharged on a psychotropic medication.

Discussion: Psychotic manifestations associated with severe disease presentations were successfully treated by child psychiatrists. Atypical antipsychotics were well-tolerated and used as an adjunct to immunosuppressive regimens in these patients. Prospective studies are necessary to improve the care of children and adolescents with SLE and severe psychiatric manifestations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / psychology*
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents