Delayed diagnosis in an elderly schizophrenic patient with catatonic state and pulmonary embolism

Hsueh Chin Hu, Nien Mu Chiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

4 Scopus citations


Catatonia is a syndrome with any two of five core features: stupor/motoric immobility/catalepsy/waxy flexibility, excitement, negativism/mutism, posturing, and echolalia/echopraxia. We describe a case of delayed diagnosis of pulmonary embolism with an atypical presentation in an elderly schizophrenia male patient, which led to a life-threatening brain infarction. A 75-year-old male was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward because of stupor, poor intake and mutism under a diagnosis of recurrent catatonia. His inability to express his suffering, dehydration, exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and upper gastrointestinal bleeding, however, made an accurate diagnosis difficult. Finally, the high D-dimer level and further chest computed tomography confirmed pulmonary embolism in the trunk of the bilateral main pulmonary arteries. The brain computed tomography also confirmed brain infarcts. He was transferred to the cardiac intensive care unit and was eventually rescued from near death due to pulmonary embolism and brain infarction. A careful differential diagnosis for pulmonary embolism-induced delirium and catatonic state is important in the treatment of patients with a previous diagnosis of catatonic schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-185
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 09 2013


  • D-dimer
  • catatonic state
  • delirium
  • pulmonary embolism
  • schizophrenia


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