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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Jun;161(6):2100-6.

Respiratory control and respiratory sensation in a patient with a ganglioglioma within the dorsocaudal brain stem.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Physiology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03765, USA.


We encountered a young woman with severe central sleep apnea caused by a medullary glioma located slightly dorsal to and to the right of the midline, a region not generally associated with CO(2) chemosensitivity. The patient had normal spirometric readings, lung volumes, diffusing capacity, maximal inspiratory pressure, and alveolar-arterial oxygen difference. While awake, she displayed marked irregularity in her breathing pattern; her end-tidal CO(2) (FET(CO(2))) ranged from 5.3 to 10.9%. During voluntary hyperpnea, she could quickly reduce her FET(CO(2)) to 4.2%, but her PCO(2) did not change after administration of acetazolamide or progesterone. Like patients with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS), our patient had a relatively intact ventilatory response to exercise; her PCO(2) was high at the start of exercise and increased slightly thereafter. In contrast to CCHS patients, however, our patient had an intact hypoxic ventilatory response (DeltaVE/ DeltaSa(O(2)) = -0.37 L/min/Sa(O(2))). In further contrast to CCHS patients, our patient had a very short breathholding time and described a sensation of air hunger as the factor limiting her breathholding ability. Her heart rate and blood pressure responses to the Valsalva maneuver were normal.

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