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16.02.2020 | Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders • Original Article

Prospective study of sleep-disordered breathing in 28 patients with acute unilateral lateral medullary infarction

Sleep and Breathing
Katja Pavšič, Janja Pretnar-Oblak, Fajko F. Bajrović, Leja Dolenc-Grošelj
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Acute unilateral lateral medullary infarction (ULMI) is complicated by respiratory failure in 2–6% of patients. However, studies investigating milder respiratory disorders not leading to overt respiratory failure, i.e., sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and its outcome, are lacking. The aim of our study was to identify and prospectively follow SDB in acute ULMI.


We prospectively followed 28 patients with MRI-confirmed acute ULMI. Polysomnography (PSG) was performed 1–3 times in the acute phase (at 1–4, 5–10, and 14–21 days after onset of symptoms) and after 3–6 months. PSG recordings in the acute phase were analyzed and compared to the follow-up.


Apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 5/h, AHI ≥ 15/h, and AHI ≥ 30/h in the acute phase were observed in 22 (79%), 19 (68%), and 10 (36%) patients, respectively. CSA, OSA, mixed CSA/OSA, or multiple interchanging SDB types were observed in the acute phase in 12 (43%), 2 (7%), 2 (7%), and 6 (21%) patients, respectively. Peak AHI varied in individual patients (median at 7 (3–14) days after onset). At follow-up, AHI and central AHI tended to decrease (p = 0.007, p = 0.003, respectively), obstructive AHI did not change (p = 0.396). Sleep architecture partially improved with significantly higher percentage of N2 and lower percentage of wakefulness after sleep onset (p = 0.007, p = 0.012, respectively).


Our data show that SDB, particularly CSA, is common in the acute phase of ULMI and that the frequency of central events decreases in the subacute phase. Further studies are needed to clarify the clinical significance and possible treatment options of SDB in these patients.

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