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Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare, idiosyncratic, and potentially life-threatening reaction to antipsychotic Antipsychotic Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are used to treat psychotic disorders and alleviate agitation, mania, and aggression. Antipsychotics are notable for their use in treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and are divided into 1st-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and atypical or 2nd-generation antipsychotics. First-Generation Antipsychotics drugs. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome presents with ≥ 2 of the following cardinal symptoms: fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children, muscle rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon, and autonomic dysfunction Autonomic Dysfunction Anterior Cord Syndrome. It is important to promptly identify this condition because of its high morbidity Morbidity The proportion of patients with a particular disease during a given year per given unit of population. Measures of Health Status and mortality Mortality All deaths reported in a given population. Measures of Health Status rates. Diagnosis is based on positive clinical and laboratory findings, along with the exclusion of other possible causes. Management involves discontinuing antipsychotic Antipsychotic Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are used to treat psychotic disorders and alleviate agitation, mania, and aggression. Antipsychotics are notable for their use in treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and are divided into 1st-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and atypical or 2nd-generation antipsychotics. First-Generation Antipsychotics medication, supportive care, and pharmacologic options.

Last updated: Jul 11, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Definition

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a life-threatening neurologic disorder associated with the use of antipsychotics that presents as a classic tetrad:

  • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children
  • Autonomic instability Autonomic instability Rabies Virus
  • Muscle rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon

Epidemiology

  • Incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency 0.01%–0.07% of people taking antipsychotics
  • 10% mortality rate Mortality rate Calculated as the ratio of the total number of people who die due to all causes over a specific time period to the total number of people in the selected population. Measures of Health Status if left untreated
  • If renal failure Renal failure Conditions in which the kidneys perform below the normal level in the ability to remove wastes, concentrate urine, and maintain electrolyte balance; blood pressure; and calcium metabolism. Renal insufficiency can be classified by the degree of kidney damage (as measured by the level of proteinuria) and reduction in glomerular filtration rate. Crush Syndrome is present, the mortality rate Mortality rate Calculated as the ratio of the total number of people who die due to all causes over a specific time period to the total number of people in the selected population. Measures of Health Status increases to 50%.

Etiology

  • NMS is an idiosyncratic reaction to neuroleptic ( antipsychotic Antipsychotic Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are used to treat psychotic disorders and alleviate agitation, mania, and aggression. Antipsychotics are notable for their use in treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and are divided into 1st-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and atypical or 2nd-generation antipsychotics. First-Generation Antipsychotics) drugs.
  • Antipsychotics primarily modulate the dopamine Dopamine One of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain. It is derived from tyrosine and is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is a major transmitter in the extrapyramidal system of the brain, and important in regulating movement. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS (D2) pathway.
  • Typical antipsychotics Typical antipsychotics Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are used to treat psychotic disorders and alleviate agitation, mania, and aggression. Antipsychotics are notable for their use in treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and are divided into 1st-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and atypical or 2nd-generation antipsychotics. First-Generation Antipsychotics have a greater likelihood of leading to NMS than atypical antipsychotics Atypical Antipsychotics Antiemetics:
    • Common 1st-generation “typical” antipsychotics:
      • Haloperidol Haloperidol A phenyl-piperidinyl-butyrophenone that is used primarily to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses. It is also used in schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorders, ballism, and tourette syndrome (a drug of choice) and occasionally as adjunctive therapy in intellectual disability and the chorea of huntington disease. It is a potent antiemetic and is used in the treatment of intractable hiccups. First-Generation Antipsychotics (Haldol)
      • Droperidol
      • Chlorpromazine Chlorpromazine The prototypical phenothiazine antipsychotic drug. Like the other drugs in this class chlorpromazine’s antipsychotic actions are thought to be due to long-term adaptation by the brain to blocking dopamine receptors. Chlorpromazine has several other actions and therapeutic uses, including as an antiemetic and in the treatment of intractable hiccup. First-Generation Antipsychotics (Thorazine)
    • Common 2nd-generation “atypical” antipsychotics:
      • Risperidone Risperidone A selective blocker of dopamine D2 receptors and serotonin 5-HT2 receptors that acts as an atypical antipsychotic agent. It has been shown to improve both positive and negative symptoms in the treatment of schizophrenia. Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Risperdal)
      • Olanzapine Olanzapine A benzodiazepine derivative that binds serotonin receptors; muscarinic receptors; histamine h1 receptors; adrenergic alpha-1 receptors; and dopamine receptors. It is an antipsychotic agent used in the treatment of schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; and major depressive disorder; it may also reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Zyprexa)
      • Quetiapine Quetiapine A dibenzothiazepine and antipsychotic agent that targets the serotonin 5-HT2 receptor; histamine h1 receptor, adrenergic alpha1 and alpha2 receptors, as well as the dopamine d1 receptor and dopamine D2 receptor. It is used in the treatment of schizophrenia; bipolar disorder and depressive disorder. Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Seroquel)
      • Clozapine Clozapine A tricyclic dibenzodiazepine, classified as an atypical antipsychotic agent. It binds several types of central nervous system receptors, and displays a unique pharmacological profile. Clozapine is a serotonin antagonist, with strong binding to 5-HT 2a/2c receptor subtype. It also displays strong affinity to several dopaminergic receptors, but shows only weak antagonism at the dopamine D2 receptor, a receptor commonly thought to modulate neuroleptic activity. Agranulocytosis is a major adverse effect associated with administration of this agent. Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Clozaril)
      • Ziprasidone Ziprasidone Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Geodon)
      • Aripiprazole Aripiprazole A piperazine and quinolone derivative that is used primarily as an antipsychotic agent. It is a partial agonist of serotonin receptor, 5-HT1a and dopamine D2 receptors, where it also functions as a postsynaptic antagonist, and an antagonist of serotonin receptor, 5-HT2a. It is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and as an adjunct therapy for the treatment of depression. Second-Generation Antipsychotics (Abilify)
  • Other medications that can trigger Trigger The type of signal that initiates the inspiratory phase by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation NMS:
    • Amoxapine Amoxapine The n-demethylated derivative of the antipsychotic agent loxapine that works by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine, serotonin, or both; it also blocks dopamine receptors. Amoxapine is used for the treatment of depression. Tricyclic Antidepressants, dosulepin ( tricyclic antidepressants Tricyclic antidepressants Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of medications used in the management of mood disorders, primarily depression. These agents, named after their 3-ring chemical structure, act via reuptake inhibition of neurotransmitters (particularly norepinephrine and serotonin) in the brain. Tricyclic Antidepressants)
    • Droperidol, metoclopramide Metoclopramide A dopamine d2 antagonist that is used as an antiemetic. Antiemetics ( antiemetics Antiemetics Antiemetics are medications used to treat and/or prevent nausea and vomiting. These drugs act on different target receptors. The main classes include benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, atypical antipsychotics, cannabinoids, and antagonists of the following receptors: serotonin, dopamine, and muscarinic and neurokinin receptors. Antiemetics)
    • Diatrizoate (contrast agent)
    • Promethazine Promethazine A phenothiazine derivative with histamine h1-blocking, antimuscarinic, and sedative properties. It is used as an antiallergic, in pruritus, for motion sickness and sedation, and also in animals. Antihistamines (antihistamine)
    • Tetrabenazine Tetrabenazine A drug formerly used as an antipsychotic and treatment of various movement disorders. Tetrabenazine blocks neurotransmitter uptake into adrenergic storage vesicles and has been used as a high affinity label for the vesicle transport system. Huntington Disease (treatment of hyperkinetic movement disorders) 
    • Lithium Lithium An element in the alkali metals family. It has the atomic symbol li, atomic number 3, and atomic weight [6. 938; 6. 997]. Salts of lithium are used in treating bipolar disorder. Ebstein’s Anomaly
    • Phenelzine Phenelzine One of the monoamine oxidase inhibitors used to treat depression; phobic disorders; and panic. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (monoamine oxidase Oxidase Neisseria inhibitor)
    • Sudden withdrawal of dopaminergic drugs ( antiparkinson medications Antiparkinson medications Medications for the management of Parkinson’s disease improve the symptoms of tremor, rigidity, and postural instability by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. While levodopa is the drug of choice in individuals of any age with moderate or severe symptoms, other agents can be used as monotherapy for milder symptoms or in conjunction with levodopa–carbidopa for symptom control. Parkinson’s Disease Drugs such as levodopa Levodopa The naturally occurring form of dihydroxyphenylalanine and the immediate precursor of dopamine. Unlike dopamine itself, it can be taken orally and crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is rapidly taken up by dopaminergic neurons and converted to dopamine. It is used for the treatment of parkinsonian disorders and is usually given with agents that inhibit its conversion to dopamine outside of the central nervous system. Parkinson’s Disease Drugs)

Pathophysiology and Clinical Presentation

Pathophysiology

  • Exact underlying mechanism remains unclear.
  • Sudden decrease in the central dopaminergic activity:
    • Significant D2 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors blockage
    • Abrupt withdrawal of D2 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors agonist
  • D2 blockade in various structures of the nervous system Nervous system The nervous system is a small and complex system that consists of an intricate network of neural cells (or neurons) and even more glial cells (for support and insulation). It is divided according to its anatomical components as well as its functional characteristics. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the central nervous system, and the branches of nerves from these structures are referred to as the peripheral nervous system. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification causes the characteristic symptoms:
    • Hypothalamus Hypothalamus The hypothalamus is a collection of various nuclei within the diencephalon in the center of the brain. The hypothalamus plays a vital role in endocrine regulation as the primary regulator of the pituitary gland, and it is the major point of integration between the central nervous and endocrine systems. Hypothalamus fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
    • Nigrostriatal pathways → rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon
    • Spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon and tremor Tremor Cyclical movement of a body part that can represent either a physiologic process or a manifestation of disease. Intention or action tremor, a common manifestation of cerebellar diseases, is aggravated by movement. In contrast, resting tremor is maximal when there is no attempt at voluntary movement, and occurs as a relatively frequent manifestation of parkinson disease. Myotonic Dystrophies

Clinical presentation

Cardinal features of the neuroleptic malignant syndrome include:

  • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever (> 40°C)
  • Alteration in the level of consciousness:
    • Encephalopathy Encephalopathy Hyper-IgM Syndrome
    • Delirium Delirium Delirium is a medical condition characterized by acute disturbances in attention and awareness. Symptoms may fluctuate during the course of a day and involve memory deficits and disorientation. Delirium
    • Stupor
    • Coma Coma Coma is defined as a deep state of unarousable unresponsiveness, characterized by a score of 3 points on the GCS. A comatose state can be caused by a multitude of conditions, making the precise epidemiology and prognosis of coma difficult to determine. Coma
  • Autonomic dysregulation:
    • Diaphoresis (excessive sweating)
    • Tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children, tachypnea Tachypnea Increased respiratory rate. Pulmonary Examination, or hypertension Hypertension Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disease that manifests as elevated systemic arterial pressures. Hypertension is most often asymptomatic and is found incidentally as part of a routine physical examination or during triage for an unrelated medical encounter. Hypertension
    • Sialorrhea (excessive salivation)
    • Hypoxemia Hypoxemia Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome
  • Severe muscular rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon, also known as “lead pipe rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon

Other signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Dysphagia Dysphagia Dysphagia is the subjective sensation of difficulty swallowing. Symptoms can range from a complete inability to swallow, to the sensation of solids or liquids becoming “stuck.” Dysphagia is classified as either oropharyngeal or esophageal, with esophageal dysphagia having 2 sub-types: functional and mechanical. Dysphagia (trouble swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility)
  • Dyspnea Dyspnea Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea
  • Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (e.g., tremors, bradykinesia Bradykinesia Parkinson’s Disease, rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon)
  • Sustained feeling of motion/restlessness
  • Uncontrollable, repetitive, stereotypical writhing movements, usually of the tongue Tongue The tongue, on the other hand, is a complex muscular structure that permits tasting and facilitates the process of mastication and communication. The blood supply of the tongue originates from the external carotid artery, and the innervation is through cranial nerves. Lips and Tongue: Anatomy
  • Urinary incontinence Urinary incontinence Urinary incontinence (UI) is involuntary loss of bladder control or unintentional voiding, which represents a hygienic or social problem to the patient. Urinary incontinence is a symptom, a sign, and a disorder. The 5 types of UI include stress, urge, mixed, overflow, and functional. Urinary Incontinence
Symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome

Symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome

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Diagnosis and Management

Laboratory findings in NMS

The diagnosis of NMS is mainly clinical. Laboratory investigations are performed to rule out other conditions or complications.

Laboratory findings associated with NMS:

  • Leukocytosis Leukocytosis A transient increase in the number of leukocytes in a body fluid. West Nile Virus (increased WBCs)
  • Elevated CK, due to the severe muscle rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon
  • Elevated potassium Potassium An element in the alkali group of metals with an atomic symbol k, atomic number 19, and atomic weight 39. 10. It is the chief cation in the intracellular fluid of muscle and other cells. Potassium ion is a strong electrolyte that plays a significant role in the regulation of fluid volume and maintenance of the water-electrolyte balance. Hyperkalemia 
  • Abnormal liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy function
  • Myoglobinuria Myoglobinuria The presence of myoglobin in urine usually as a result of rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis

Management

NMS is an acute medical emergency and should be treated as such.

The 1st step should be to stop the antipsychotic Antipsychotic Antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, are used to treat psychotic disorders and alleviate agitation, mania, and aggression. Antipsychotics are notable for their use in treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and are divided into 1st-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and atypical or 2nd-generation antipsychotics. First-Generation Antipsychotics agent or restart the dopamine Dopamine One of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain. It is derived from tyrosine and is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is a major transmitter in the extrapyramidal system of the brain, and important in regulating movement. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS agent.

  • Control fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever:
    • Antipyretics 
    • Cooling blankets
    • Ice packs
  • Medical therapy:
    • Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines work on the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor to produce inhibitory effects on the CNS. Benzodiazepines do not mimic GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in humans, but instead potentiate GABA activity. Benzodiazepines: 1st-line for agitation Agitation A feeling of restlessness associated with increased motor activity. This may occur as a manifestation of nervous system drug toxicity or other conditions. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus and seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures
    • Dantrolene Dantrolene Skeletal muscle relaxant that acts by interfering with excitation-contraction coupling in the muscle fiber. It is used in spasticity and other neuromuscular abnormalities. Although the mechanism of action is probably not central, dantrolene is usually grouped with the central muscle relaxants. Spasmolytics:
      • Treats muscular rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon
      • Inhibits the ryanodine receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors
      • Prevents release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology of Ca CA Condylomata acuminata are a clinical manifestation of genital HPV infection. Condylomata acuminata are described as raised, pearly, flesh-colored, papular, cauliflower-like lesions seen in the anogenital region that may cause itching, pain, or bleeding. Condylomata Acuminata (Genital Warts)2+ from the sarcoplasmic reticulum Sarcoplasmic Reticulum A network of tubules and sacs in the cytoplasm of skeletal muscle fibers that assist with muscle contraction and relaxation by releasing and storing calcium ions. Muscle Tissue: Histology of skeletal muscle
      • Leads to muscle relaxation
    • Dopamine Dopamine One of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain. It is derived from tyrosine and is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is a major transmitter in the extrapyramidal system of the brain, and important in regulating movement. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS agonists ( bromocriptine Bromocriptine A semisynthetic ergotamine alkaloid that is a dopamine D2 agonist. It suppresses prolactin secretion. Parkinson’s Disease Drugs, amantadine Amantadine An antiviral that is used in the prophylactic or symptomatic treatment of influenza A. It is also used as an antiparkinsonian agent, to treat extrapyramidal reactions, and for postherpetic neuralgia. The mechanisms of its effects in movement disorders are not well understood but probably reflect an increase in synthesis and release of dopamine, with perhaps some inhibition of dopamine uptake. Antivirals for Influenza)
  • Supportive care, such as admitting the patient to the ICU ICU Hospital units providing continuous surveillance and care to acutely ill patients. West Nile Virus
  • Symptoms should start subsiding immediately after the discontinuation of the causative agent and resolve within 10 days.
  • Different antipsychotics can be safely re-administered in most cases after 2 weeks.

Differential Diagnosis

The most relevant differential diagnoses for NMS are serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening condition caused by large increases in serotonergic activity. This condition can be triggered by taking excessive doses of certain serotonergic medications or taking these medications in combination with other drugs that increase their activity. Serotonin Syndrome and malignant hyperthermia Malignant hyperthermia An important complication of anesthesia is malignant hyperthermia, an autosomal dominant disorder of the regulation of calcium transport in the skeletal muscles resulting in a hypermetabolic crisis. Malignant hyperthermia is marked by high fever, muscle rigidity, rhabdomyolysis, and respiratory and metabolic acidosis. Malignant Hyperthermia, and it is important to distinguish between them.

  • Serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening condition caused by large increases in serotonergic activity. This condition can be triggered by taking excessive doses of certain serotonergic medications or taking these medications in combination with other drugs that increase their activity. Serotonin Syndrome: characterized by fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, autonomic dysfunction Autonomic Dysfunction Anterior Cord Syndrome, and rigidity Rigidity Continuous involuntary sustained muscle contraction which is often a manifestation of basal ganglia diseases. When an affected muscle is passively stretched, the degree of resistance remains constant regardless of the rate at which the muscle is stretched. This feature helps to distinguish rigidity from muscle spasticity. Megacolon/ spasticity Spasticity Spinal Disk Herniation related to overdoses by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Antidepressants encompass several drug classes and are used to treat individuals with depression, anxiety, and psychiatric conditions, as well as those with chronic pain and symptoms of menopause. Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and many other drugs in a class of their own. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Similar Antidepressants ( SSRIs SSRIs Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Similar Antidepressants) or some other antidepressant Antidepressant Antidepressants encompass several drug classes and are used to treat individuals with depression, anxiety, and psychiatric conditions, as well as those with chronic pain and symptoms of menopause. Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and many other drugs in a class of their own. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Similar Antidepressants. Serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening condition caused by large increases in serotonergic activity. This condition can be triggered by taking excessive doses of certain serotonergic medications or taking these medications in combination with other drugs that increase their activity. Serotonin Syndrome presents with more GI symptoms (e.g., nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia). Management is nearly the same as for NMS. 
  • Malignant hyperthermia Malignant hyperthermia An important complication of anesthesia is malignant hyperthermia, an autosomal dominant disorder of the regulation of calcium transport in the skeletal muscles resulting in a hypermetabolic crisis. Malignant hyperthermia is marked by high fever, muscle rigidity, rhabdomyolysis, and respiratory and metabolic acidosis. Malignant Hyperthermia: rare complication triggered by certain inhaled anesthetics Inhaled anesthetics Inhaled anesthetics are chemical compounds that can induce and maintain general anesthesia when delivered by inhalation. Inhaled anesthetics can be divided into 2 groups: volatile anesthetics and gases. Volatile anesthetics include halothane, isoflurane, desflurane, and sevoflurane. Inhaled Anesthetics or paralytics. Suspect in the operating room or during anesthesia Anesthesia A state characterized by loss of feeling or sensation. This depression of nerve function is usually the result of pharmacologic action and is induced to allow performance of surgery or other painful procedures. Anesthesiology: History and Basic Concepts procedure. Management is nearly the same as for NMS and is clinically indistinguishable except for the specific drugs that trigger Trigger The type of signal that initiates the inspiratory phase by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation the syndrome.

Other conditions that present with altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children, autonomic dysfunction Autonomic Dysfunction Anterior Cord Syndrome, and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever:

  • Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis: infection of the meninges Meninges The brain and the spinal cord are enveloped by 3 overlapping layers of connective tissue called the meninges. The layers are, from the most external layer to the most internal layer, the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. Between these layers are 3 potential spaces called the epidural, subdural, and subarachnoid spaces. Meninges: Anatomy, the protective membranes around the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification, most often caused by Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae. Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis presents with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, stiff neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess, and headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess. Diagnosis is by lumbar puncture Lumbar Puncture Febrile Infant for CSF evaluation. Management consists of the rapid administration of antibiotics.
  • Encephalitis Encephalitis Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain parenchyma caused by an infection, usually viral. Encephalitis may present with mild symptoms such as headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain or with severe symptoms such as seizures, altered consciousness, and paralysis. Encephalitis: inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification, usually caused by viral agents. Often presents as only mild flu-like signs and symptoms, such as a fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever or headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess, or no symptoms at all. Diagnosis is by spinal tap Spinal Tap Febrile Infant and brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification imaging. Management consists of antiviral Antiviral Antivirals for Hepatitis B medications and supportive care, such as bed rest, fluid therapy, and antiinflammatory drugs.
  • Toxic encephalopathy Encephalopathy Hyper-IgM Syndrome: neurologic disorder caused by exposure to neurotoxic organic solvents, such as heavy metals, neurotoxic drugs, or cyanotoxins. The clinical presentation is varied, including altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children, memory Memory Complex mental function having four distinct phases: (1) memorizing or learning, (2) retention, (3) recall, and (4) recognition. Clinically, it is usually subdivided into immediate, recent, and remote memory. Psychiatric Assessment loss, and visual problems. Diagnosis is made by exclusion, and management is mainly supportive. 
  • Heatstroke Heatstroke Heatstroke is an illness characterized as a core body temperature exceeding 40°C (104°F) with accompanying neurological symptoms including ataxia, seizures, and/or delirium. Heatstroke is usually due to the body’s inability to regulate its temperature when challenged with an elevated heat load. Heatstroke: elevation of core body temperature Body Temperature The measure of the level of heat of a human or animal. Heatstroke above the normal diurnal range of 36ºC–37.5ºC due to the failure of thermoregulation Thermoregulation Body temperature can be divided into external temperature, which involves the skin, and core temperature, which involves the CNS and viscera. While external temperature can be variable, the core temperature is maintained within a narrow range of 36.5-37.5ºC (97.7-99.5ºF). Body Temperature Regulation. Heatstroke Heatstroke Heatstroke is an illness characterized as a core body temperature exceeding 40°C (104°F) with accompanying neurological symptoms including ataxia, seizures, and/or delirium. Heatstroke is usually due to the body’s inability to regulate its temperature when challenged with an elevated heat load. Heatstroke presents as severe neurologic dysfunction, marked elevated core temperature, absent sweating, hot and flushed skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions, tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children, hypotension Hypotension Hypotension is defined as low blood pressure, specifically < 90/60 mm Hg, and is most commonly a physiologic response. Hypotension may be mild, serious, or life threatening, depending on the cause. Hypotension, tachypnea Tachypnea Increased respiratory rate. Pulmonary Examination, and nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics. Management involves volume resuscitation Resuscitation The restoration to life or consciousness of one apparently dead. . Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome and rapid cooling Rapid Cooling Heatstroke of the patient. 
  • Status epilepticus Status Epilepticus A prolonged seizure or seizures repeated frequently enough to prevent recovery between episodes occurring over a period of 20-30 minutes. The most common subtype is generalized tonic-clonic status epilepticus, a potentially fatal condition associated with neuronal injury and respiratory and metabolic dysfunction. Nonconvulsive forms include petit mal status and complex partial status, which may manifest as behavioral disturbances. Simple partial status epilepticus consists of persistent motor, sensory, or autonomic seizures that do not impair cognition. Subclinical status epilepticus generally refers to seizures occurring in an unresponsive or comatose individual in the absence of overt signs of seizure activity. Seizures: medical emergency characterized by a single seizure lasting > 5 minutes or ≥ 2 seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures within a 5-minute period without a return to a normal lucid state. EEG EEG Seizures supports the diagnosis, and management includes antiseizure drugs (e.g., diazepam Diazepam A benzodiazepine with anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, and amnesic properties and a long duration of action. Its actions are mediated by enhancement of gamma-aminobutyric acid activity. Benzodiazepines, lorazepam Lorazepam A benzodiazepine used as an anti-anxiety agent with few side effects. It also has hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and considerable sedative properties and has been proposed as a preanesthetic agent. Benzodiazepines, phenytoin Phenytoin An anticonvulsant that is used to treat a wide variety of seizures. The mechanism of therapeutic action is not clear, although several cellular actions have been described including effects on ion channels, active transport, and general membrane stabilization. Phenytoin has been proposed for several other therapeutic uses, but its use has been limited by its many adverse effects and interactions with other drugs. First-Generation Anticonvulsant Drugs).
  • Thyrotoxicosis Thyrotoxicosis A hypermetabolic syndrome caused by excess thyroid hormones which may come from endogenous or exogenous sources. The endogenous source of hormone may be thyroid hyperplasia; thyroid neoplasms; or hormone-producing extrathyroidal tissue. Thyrotoxicosis is characterized by nervousness; tachycardia; fatigue; weight loss; heat intolerance; and excessive sweating. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism: classic physiologic manifestations of excess thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types Thyrotoxicosis Thyrotoxicosis A hypermetabolic syndrome caused by excess thyroid hormones which may come from endogenous or exogenous sources. The endogenous source of hormone may be thyroid hyperplasia; thyroid neoplasms; or hormone-producing extrathyroidal tissue. Thyrotoxicosis is characterized by nervousness; tachycardia; fatigue; weight loss; heat intolerance; and excessive sweating. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism presents as signs of an increased metabolic rate and overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system Nervous system The nervous system is a small and complex system that consists of an intricate network of neural cells (or neurons) and even more glial cells (for support and insulation). It is divided according to its anatomical components as well as its functional characteristics. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the central nervous system, and the branches of nerves from these structures are referred to as the peripheral nervous system. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification. Diagnosis is made by measuring the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone Thyroid-stimulating hormone A glycoprotein hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. Thyrotropin stimulates thyroid gland by increasing the iodide transport, synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). Thyroid Hormones (TSH) and free thyroxine Thyroxine The major hormone derived from the thyroid gland. Thyroxine is synthesized via the iodination of tyrosines (monoiodotyrosine) and the coupling of iodotyrosines (diiodotyrosine) in the thyroglobulin. Thyroxine is released from thyroglobulin by proteolysis and secreted into the blood. Thyroid Hormones (T4) and triiodothyronine Triiodothyronine A T3 thyroid hormone normally synthesized and secreted by the thyroid gland in much smaller quantities than thyroxine (T4). Most T3 is derived from peripheral monodeiodination of T4 at the 5′ position of the outer ring of the iodothyronine nucleus. The hormone finally delivered and used by the tissues is mainly t3. Thyroid Hormones (T3). Management depends on the cause but may be pharmacologic, surgical, or with radioiodine.

References

  1. Berman BD. (2011). Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: a review for neurohospitalists. The Neurohospitalist 1(1):41–47. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941875210386491
  2. Simon LV, Hashmi MF, Callahan AL. (2020). Neuroleptic malignant syndrome. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482282/
  3. Wijdicks EFM. (2019). Neuroleptic malignant syndrome. UpToDate. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/neuroleptic-malignant-syndrome

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