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Marked episodic elevation of cerebrospinal fluid pressure during nocturnal sleep in patients with sleep apnea hypersomnia syndrome.


The CSF pressure was measured continuously at the lumbar level during nocturnal sleep in 3 patients with sleep apnea hypersomnia syndrome. Nocturnal sleep was very unstable with frequent episodes of obstructive sleep apnea. When the patients were awake and relaxed in the supine position, their CSF pressure was stable and within the normal range. Episodic marked elevations of CSF pressure occurred frequently during sleep, and each elevation was preceded and accompanied by an episode of sleep apnea or hypopnea. Significant correlations were found between the duration of apneic episodes and increase of CSF pressure, and between decrease of SaO2 or TcPO2 and increase of CSF pressure. The duration of sleep apnea was longer, increase of CSF pressure was greater, and decreases of SaO2 and TcPO2 were more marked during REM sleep than during NREM sleep. It is suggested that the frequent marked episodic elevations of CSF pressure are caused by an increase in the intracranial vascular volume occurring mainly in response to transient hypercapnia and hypoxia, which are induced by pulmonary hypoventilation during the episodes of sleep apnea.

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