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Ann Neurol. 1994 Feb;35(2):239-43.

Prognostic value of myoclonus status in comatose survivors of cardiac arrest.

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  • 1Department of Neurology (Neurology Critical Care Service), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.


Generalized myoclonus status is common in comatose patients after cardiac resuscitation, but its prognostic value is uncertain. We studied the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic findings in 107 consecutive patients who remained comatose after cardiac resuscitation. Myoclonus status was present in 40 patients (37%). Features more prevalent in patients with myoclonus status were burst suppression on electroencephalograms, cerebral edema or cerebral infarcts on computed tomography scans, and acute ischemic neuronal change in all cortical laminae. All patients with myoclonus status died. Of 67 patients without myoclonus, 20 awakened. We conclude that myoclonus status in postanoxic coma should be considered an agonal phenomenon that indicates devastating neocortical damage. Its presence in comatose patients after cardiac arrest must strongly influence the decision to withdraw life support.

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