A polygraphic study of one case of primary alveolar hypoventilation (Ondine's curse)

C. Coccagna, F. Cirignotta, M. Zucconi, R. Gerardi, R. Medori, E. Lugaresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report here on a case of primary alveolar hypoventilation in a 9 yr old child. From the age of 8 years, the patient has suffered from episodes of bronchopneumonia associated with severe respiratory insufficiency and lethargy. After recovery, cyanosis developed during the night and, later on, during the day. On two occasions, serious respiratory depression followed ketamine sedation for cardiac catheterization and total anaesthesia for cerebral angiography. Pulmonary function tests showed normal volumes and normal mechanics of breathing; blood gas analysis revealed a slight hypercapnic acidosis and hypoxia. The ventilatory response to CO2 was virtually absent, whereas voluntary hyperventilation normalized blood gas values. A polygraphic recording during sleep showed a marked worsening of hypoventilation, which occurred soon after falling asleep and continued through all sleep stages; sporadic central apneas, at times prolonged, were recorded only during light sleep. The patient, now 14 yr old, is maintained in satisfactory condition with low flow nocturnal oxygen administration combined with the use of a body respirator during sleep twice a week.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Respiratory Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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