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Neurol Clin Pract. 2018 Jun;8(3):249-256. doi: 10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000466.

Early myoclonus following anoxic brain injury.

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Departments of Neurology (ASR, BR, MGH, DR, WR, AV, CKC, AP, SA, SP, DJR, JC), Medicine (DB, LER), and Anesthesiology (VKM), Columbia University Medical Center; and Department of Neurology (MGH), New York University Medical Center, New York.



It is unknown whether postanoxic cortical and subcortical myoclonus are distinct entities with different prognoses.


In this retrospective cohort study of 604 adult survivors of cardiac arrest over 8.5 years, we identified 111 (18%) patients with myoclonus. Basic demographics and clinical characteristics of myoclonus were collected. EEG reports, and, when available, raw video EEG, were reviewed, and all findings adjudicated by 3 authors blinded to outcomes. Myoclonus was classified as cortical if there was a preceding, time-locked electrographic correlate and otherwise as subcortical. Outcome at discharge was determined using Cerebral Performance Category.


Patients with myoclonus had longer arrests with less favorable characteristics compared to patients without myoclonus. Cortical myoclonus occurred twice as often as subcortical myoclonus (59% vs 23%, respectively). Clinical characteristics during hospitalization did not distinguish the two. Rates of electrographic seizures were higher in patients with cortical myoclonus (43%, vs 8% with subcortical). Survival to discharge was worse for patients with myoclonus compared to those without (26% vs 39%, respectively), but did not differ between subcortical and cortical myoclonus (24% and 26%, respectively). Patients with cortical myoclonus were more likely to be discharged in a comatose state than those with subcortical myoclonus (82% vs 33%, respectively). Among survivors, good functional outcome at discharge was equally possible between those with cortical and subcortical myoclonus (12% and 16%, respectively).


Cortical and subcortical myoclonus are seen in every sixth patient with cardiac arrest and cannot be distinguished using clinical criteria. Either condition may have good functional outcomes.

[Available on 2019-06-01]

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