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Crit Care Resusc. 2009 Mar;11(1):39-41.

Post-hypoxic myoclonic status: the prognosis is not always hopeless.

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  • 1Colorectal Surgery, Derby City General Hospital, Derby, UK.


A 67-year-old woman abruptly developed acute pulmonary oedema, severe bradycardia and then cardiac arrest while in hospital 6 days after an elective hernia repair. She was resuscitated, intubated and transferred to the intensive care unit. Within 24 hours, she began to display repetitive, generalised myoclonic jerks that failed to respond to therapy with conventional anticonvulsants; an electroencephalogram confirmed myoclonic status. After administration of levetiracetam was begun on Day 3, myoclonic jerks reduced, and there was gradual clinical improvement. By Day 6 after the arrest, the patient was alert and oriented (Glasgow Coma Score, 15/15). Although she died on Day 11 after massive haemoptysis and cardiac arrest, this patient demonstrates the possibility of reasonable neurological recovery despite early onset of myoclonic status.

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