"Postpolio" Sequelae and Sleep-Related Disordered Breathing

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To analyze the clinical manifestations and various types of sleep-related disordered breathing (SRDB) in patients with a history of poliomyelitis and with current "postpolio" sequelae (PPS).

Material and Methods

We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 108 consecutive patients with PPS and sleep disturbances encountered during an 11-year period at Mayo Clinic Rochester and abstracted the features of acute polio, PPS, and results of sleep evaluation (overnight oximetry or polysomnography). Only those patients who were not receiving ventilatory support were included in the study.


The features of PPS were dyspnea, fatigue, new weakness, and musculoskeletal pain. Of the 108 patients, 35 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Sleep evaluations revealed three general types of disturbances: obstructive sleep apnea (group O, N = 19); hypoventilation (group H, N = 7); and both (group OH, N = 9). The mean apnea/hypopnea index was 37, 4, and 16 per hour in patients in groups O, H, and OH, respectively (P<0.05), and the mean arterial carbon dioxide tension was 39, 60, and 55 mm Hg in these respective study groups (P<0.05). The overall mean age at onset of symptoms of SRDB was 47 years, and the mean latent period after acute polio was 37 years. Hypersomnolence was the commonest SRDB symptom, present in 32 of the 35 patients. Snoring was noted in 100% of patients in group O, 0% in group H, and 67% in group OH. Patients in group O were obese and had normal lung function. Patients in group H tended to have normal weights and a history of diffuse neurologic deficits involving the trunk during the acute episode of polio. Scoliosis, restricted lung function, cor pulmonale, and decreased maximal respiratory pressures were common in patients in group H. Patients in group OH had overlapping features of those in groups O and H.


In patients with PPS, we identified three patterns of sleep disturbance-obstructive sleep apnea, hypoventilation, and a combination of both. These groups are characterized by clinical features and by results of arterial blood gas determinations, overnight oximetry, and polysomnography. SRDB is a late sequela of poliomyelitis, and clinical evaluation should include information about sleep.

Mayo Clin Proc 1998;73


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