Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome: A pathologic study of the neuromuscular system

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Article Abstract

An infant with congenital central hypoventilation was managed by bilateral phrenic nerve pacing for 3 months. He died at 8 months of age, following 19 days of continuous bilateral pacing necessitated by the eventual loss of voluntary as well as autonomic ventilatory control. The phrenic nerves showed axonal dystrophy at the site of electrode implantation and more severe distal degeneration. Focal neurogenic atrophy was seen in the diaphragmatic muscle. These changes were attributed to electrical injury resulting from the period of continuous pacing. The most significant neuropathologic finding was a mild generalized decrease in the density of neurons and myelinated nerve fibers in the respiratory centers of the medulla. These morphologic abnormalities were attributed to a sublethal intrauterine lesion that would be the first example of a morphologic correlation with the functional abnormality in congenital central hypoventilation.

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