Chronic respiratory failure in a patient with type I Arnold-Chiari malformation (ACM1) and syringomyelia

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We present the case of a young adult with type I Arnold-Chiari malformation (ACM1) and syringomyelia who developed central sleep apnoea and chronic respiratory failure, successfully treated with nocturnal noninvasive positive pressure ventilation ventilation (NIPPV). An extensive syringomyelic cavity (from bulbar to L4 segment) with severe impairment of the IX cranial nerve was documented and remains, although reduced, after the neurosurgical treatment. At baseline evaluation, the patient showed a moderate restrictive ventilatory defect, severe hypercapnic respiratory failure, abnormal control of breathing characterized by the absence of response to hypoxia and hypercapnia, and severe nocturnal central apnoeas. Nocturnal NIPPV was then started in the A/C mode with an improvement in blood gas values. Further evaluations were performed 10 and 18 months later. A progressive significant improvement of lung volumes, both in sitting and supine position, associated with a slight improvement of blood-gas values were observed. Nonetheless, the breathing pattern abnormalities persisted. Polysomnographic evaluation during mechanical ventilation shelved a normalization of breathing pattern with arterial oxygen saturation (Sa,O2) > 90% throughout the night.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-141
Number of pages4
JournalMonaldi Archives for Chest Disease - Cardiac Series
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Central sleep-apnoea
  • Control of breathing
  • Respiratory failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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