Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 841–844 | Cite as

Uncontrollable high-frequency tachypnea in a case of unilateral medial medullary infarct

  • Laurent DucrosEmail author
  • Katayoun Vahedi
  • Thomas Similowski
  • Marie-Germaine Bousser
  • Didier Payen
Brief Report



Medullary infarcts can be associated with breathing disorders that usually consist in central hypoventilation.


We describe the case of a 54-year-old man, fully conscious, presenting with an uncontrollable high frequency and shallow tachypnea (95/min) at the onset of a unilateral medial medullary infarct. This disorder disappeared under inspiratory pressure support mechanical ventilation.

Measurements and results.

Respiratory drive (respiratory rate, occlusion pressure, and mean inspiratory flow), efferent pathway (transcranial and cervical magnetic stimulation), and afferent pathway (response to CO2 and to lung inflation) were investigated. The respiratory drive was increased. The phrenic nerve conduction time was normal. The sensitivity of the central pattern generator to lung inflation and to CO2 was preserved. The territory of the infarct was supplied by the spinal anterior artery.


An extremely rapid and shallow tachypnea due to the increase in respiratory drive can be associated with unilateral medullary infarction.


Medulla oblongata Hypercapnia Cerebral infarction 



We are grateful to Louis R. Caplan (Neurology department, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., USA), J.P. Guichard (Neuroradiology department, Lariboisière hospital, Paris, France), and C. Straus (Pneumology department, Pitié-Salpétrière hospital, Paris, France) for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

134_2003_1658_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material, approximately 1178 KB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Ducros
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katayoun Vahedi
    • 2
  • Thomas Similowski
    • 3
  • Marie-Germaine Bousser
    • 2
  • Didier Payen
    • 1
  1. 1.Département d'Anesthésie-Réanimation-SMURHôpital Lariboisière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisParisFrance
  2. 2.Service de NeurologieHôpital Lariboisière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisParisFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Physiopathologie Respiratoire, Service de PneumologieGroupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpétrière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisParisFrance

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