Diagnosis and Treatment of Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome in the Intensive Care Unit: A Case Report

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Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a neurological emergency caused by dysregulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission. While it is typically characterized by muscle rigidity, fever and altered mental status, it may have a heterogeneous and non-specific presentation, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment. Treatment involves cessation of dopamine-receptor antagonists and supportive measures, but in more severe cases, bromocriptine, dantrolene, benzodiazepines and/or electroconvulsive therapy should be considered. We present the case of a 66-year-old man with severe neuroleptic malignant syndrome, diagnosed due to need for continuous invasive ventilation in an Intensive Care Unit, after successful treatment for respiratory sepsis. The patient recovered after electroconvulsive therapy and administration of bromocriptine. This unusually severe case illustrates the need for a high level of suspicion for neuroleptic malignant syndrome in critically ill patients with malignant catatonic syndromes, allowing for an early diagnosis and potentially lifesaving treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-467
JournalActa Médica Portuguesa
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Intensive Care Units
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome/diagnosis
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome/therapy


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