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Can Anaesth Soc J. 1986 Nov;33(6):803-6.

Aspiration pneumonia and coma--an unusual presentation of dystrophic myotonia.


A 30-year-old female patient presented in a comatose state with clinical and radiographic signs of aspiration pneumonia 16 hours following elective surgery. Subsequent clinical assessment and investigations revealed the characteristic facies, proximal muscle weakness, lenticular opacities, pulmonary function defects, arterial desaturation and abnormal breathing during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep often associated with myotonia dystrophica. Although these characteristic features were evident on clinical examination postoperatively they were not noted in the preoperative assessment. The aspiration pneumonia and coma were unusual presenting features of this disease. Unsuspected myotonia dystrophica should be considered in the differential diagnosis of unexplained respiratory depression, aspiration or comatose state following surgery. Recognition of the disorder during the preoperative assessment is the key to avoiding complications during the perioperative management of such patients.

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