Clinical features of catatonic non-convulsive status epilepticus: A systematic review of cases

J Psychosom Res. 2021 Dec;151:110660. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2021.110660. Epub 2021 Oct 27.


Objective: Non-convulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) can manifest as catatonia, although it is unclear how frequently such cases have been reported. The common clinical features of these two conditions are also unclear.

Methods: Using the MEDLINE and Embase databases, we performed a systematic literature search to identify cases diagnosed with both catatonia, according to the Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale, and NCSE, according to the Salzburg Consensus Criteria (last search: March 29, 2021). We extracted data on demographics, clinical features of catatonia, EEG findings, and treatments.

Results: A total of 66 patients with catatonic NSCE (men, 49%; mean age, 42.0 years) were identified from our search. Of the 66 cases described: 30 (46%) showed motor symptoms; 35 (38%) occurred in patients with preceding episodes of epileptic seizures; 19 (29%) showed subtle ictal clinical phenomena, such as minor twitching of the mouth, periorbital region, and extremities; 22 (33%) presented with psychiatric symptoms prior to the onset of catatonia; 17 (26%) had a history of psychiatric diseases; and in 10 cases (15%), NSCE was confirmed by intentional or non-intentional long-term EEG monitoring. Benzodiazepines were used as the initial treatment for NCSE in 30 cases (49%), of which 20 cases (73%) improved with monotherapy.

Discussion: A substantial number of cases included in the present review involved catatonia without any symptoms indicative of epilepsy, suggesting that NCSE may be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disease, and highlighting the importance of the accurate diagnosis and treatment of NCSE in patients presenting with catatonia.

Keywords: Catatonia; NCSE; Nonconvulsive status epilepticus; Stupor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catatonia* / diagnosis
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seizures
  • Status Epilepticus* / diagnosis