Tardive Syndromes are Rarely Reversible after Discontinuing Dopamine Receptor Blocking Agents: Experience from a University-based Movement Disorder Clinic

  • Deepti Zutshi
  • Leslie J. Cloud
  • Stewart A. Factor

Abstract

Background: Several studies have examined reversibility of tardive syndromes (TS), primarily in psychotic patients who are maintained on dopamine receptor blocking drugs. The results have varied widely. However, few have assessed remission rates after discontinuing the offending agents. This study evaluated reversibility of TS in patients who permanently withdrew the causative agent(s). We also examined for any possible clinical predictors of reversibility.

Methods: A retrospective cohort of 108 TS patients was studied. Most of the patients were not psychotic; most patients were being treated either for a mood disorder with atypical antipsychotics or for a gastrointestinal disturbance with metoclopramide. Patients were stratified on the basis of reversibility, and statistical tests were used for subgroup comparisons of relevant clinical variables. Logistic regression was undertaken to identify clinical variables predictive of reversibility.

Results: Only 13% of the cohort experienced reversibility of the TS, 2% without medical intervention. When stratified by reversibility, there were no significant differences in any study variables between subgroups. None of the study variables predicted reversibility in the logistic regression.

Discussion: Our study demonstrated a low remission rate for TS in a cohort of psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients seen in a movement disorder clinic after the offending agents were completely withdrawn. Such a finding has significant prognostic implications. It is possible that limitations of the retrospective design may have resulted in an underestimation. There is a clear need for prospective, multicenter, clinical trials in populations that can be safely withdrawn from dopamine receptor blocking agents so that true remission rates can be measured.