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Can J Anaesth. 1995 Apr;42(4):344-7.

Upper airway involvement in Parkinson's disease resulting in postoperative respiratory failure.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.


A 71-yr-old man with a six-year history of Parkinson's disease (PD), Type II diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, and remote 20 pack-year smoking history, underwent an anterior resection of the rectum for carcinoma. Sixty hours later, the patient suffered a respiratory arrest; his antiparkinsonian medications had not been resumed. Preoperative flow-volume loops showed the characteristic saw-tooth pattern of PD indicating dysfunction of the striated muscle of the upper airway. Although postoperative respiratory distress was managed as lower airway obstruction, at the time of intubation there were no signs of lower airway pathology. Upper airway dysfunction and obstruction secondary to PD is thought to have been a contributing factor to the postoperative respiratory distress and failure. This case is presented to draw attention to the risk of upper airway dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease, especially with the withdrawal of antiparkinsonian medications.

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