Reversal of Sleep-Disordered Breathing with Opioid Withdrawal


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Abstract

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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