SynapsesWhat exactly IS serotonin syndrome?

It’s caused by the excess of serotonin and presents classically as:

  • Altered mental status
  • Autonomic instability
  • Neuromuscular hyperactivity

Fortunately, there’s a nice algorithm (Hunter’s decision rule) which helps you decide whether it is serotonin syndrome or not. I also include a table, which I adapted from the New England Journal of Medicine review article on Serotonin Syndrome, which helps you to differentiate it from its mimickers, such as anticholinergic syndrome, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and malignant hyperthermia.

PV Card: Serotonin Syndrome

 


Adapted from 1,2
Go to the ALiEM Cards site for more resources.

A video to remind you what clonus looks like:

Thanks to Dr. Steve MacDade (Univ of Florida, Jacksonville EM resident) for the idea!

1.
Boyer E, Shannon M. The serotonin syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2005;352(11):1112-1120. [PubMed]
2.
Ables A, Nagubilli R. Prevention, recognition, and management of serotonin syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(9):1139-1142. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD

@M_Lin

Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg San Francisco General. Founder of ALiEM @aliemteam #PostitPearls https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD