Intubation for Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Attacks: Frequency, Risk Factors, and Impact on Outcome

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Purpose: Patients with psychogenic non-epileptic attacks (PNEA) sometimes receive aggressive treatment leading to endotracheal intubation. We sought to identify the frequency, risk factors, and impact on outcome of intubation for PNEA. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all PNEA patients admitted via the emergency department (ED) who had an episode of PNEA documented by continuous video electroencephalography (vEEG) at Henry Ford Hospital between January 2012 and October 2017. Patients with comorbid epilepsy were excluded. Clinical features, treatments, and vEEG reports were compared between intubated and non-intubated patients. Results: Of 80 patients who were admitted via the ED and had PNEA documented by vEEG, 12 (15%) were intubated. Compared with non-intubated PNEA patients, intubated patients had longer duration of convulsive symptoms (25 [IQR 7-53] vs 2 [IQR 1-9] minutes, P = 0.01), were less likely to have a normal Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 (33% vs 94%, P < 0.001), received higher doses of benzodiazepines (30 [IQR 16-45] vs 10 [IQR 5-20] mg of diazepam equivalents, P = 0.004), and were treated with more antiepileptic drugs (AEDs, 2 [IQR 1-3] vs 1 [IQR 1-2], P = 0.01). Hospital length of stay was longer (3 [IQR 3-5] vs 2 [IQR 2-3], P = 0.001), and the rate of complications (25% vs 4%, P = 0.04) and re-hospitalization from a recurrent episode of PNEA within 30 days was higher among intubated PNEA patients (17% vs 0%, P = 0.02). Conclusion: Fifteen percent of patients hospitalized for vEEG-documented PNEA were intubated. Intubated patients had longer length of stay, more in-hospital complications, and a high rate of re-hospitalization from recurrent PNEA symptoms. Prolonged duration of convulsive symptoms, depressed level of consciousness, and aggressive treatment with benzodiazepines were associated with intubation for PNEA.

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