Reversal of Sleep-Disordered Breathing with Opioid Withdrawal

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Obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, sleep related hypoventilation, Biot's or ataxic breathing, and cluster breathing are some of the commonly described sleep disorders in patients who are on long-term opioids. Continuous positive airway pressure that is commonly used to treat obstructive sleep apnea may not be effective in treating sleep-disordered breathing in long-term opioid users, and an adaptive servoventilator (ASV) may be needed. We present a 30-year-old woman with excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing for the past 4 years. Medical history was complicated by chronic osteomyelitis, periorbital abscess, and chronic facial pain requiring methadone for pain control for the last 4 years. In this case, ASV, though effective, was not tolerable due to chronic facial pain, and successful withdrawal of methadone at our pain rehabilitation center resolved the sleep-disordered breathing and improved daytime sleepiness. This is to our knowledge the first case report of resolution of sleep-disordered breathing and improvement in daytime sleepiness after withdrawal of long-term opioid use.

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