Sleep-disordered breathing in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy using negative pressure ventilators

Chest. 1992 Dec;102(6):1656-62. doi: 10.1378/chest.102.6.1656.


We studied the occurrence of nocturnal disordered breathing events and O2 desaturations in 12 patients with late-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using negative pressure ventilators. We also assessed the effects of O2 supplementation and nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) on disordered breathing events in selected patients and examined sleep quality in a small subgroup. Average age was 23 + 2 years and FVC was 293 + 33 ml. Eleven of the 12 patients had more than five disordered breathing events per hour during nocturnal monitoring, and the lowest O2 saturation was < 85 percent in nine patients. Nasal O2 (2 L/min) during negative pressure ventilation in four patients did not alter the frequency of disordered breathing events, prolonged the mean and maximum durations of events, and failed to eliminate severe O2 desaturations in two patients. Nasal CPAP was used in two patients during negative pressure ventilation and completely eliminated disordered breathing events in both. Overnight polysomnography during negative pressure ventilation in three patients demonstrated frequent awakenings that fell in frequency following elective tracheostomy in two patients and use of nasal CPAP in one. We conclude that negative pressure ventilation in patients with late-stage DMD is associated with frequent disordered breathing events and severe O2 desaturations in many patients. Concomitant use of O2 supplementation may prolong the events, but a switch to positive pressure ventilation or addition of nasal CPAP is effective therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Darkness
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Muscular Dystrophies / blood
  • Muscular Dystrophies / complications*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Polysomnography
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / blood
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / blood
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Tracheostomy
  • Ventilators, Negative-Pressure / adverse effects*


  • Oxygen