Clinical differences between the respiratory disturbances resulting from spinal cord involvement and the breathing defects produced by brain stem lesions have been recognized in poliomyelitis for over 50 years. Despite this long recognition, there have been comparatively few detailed studies of the mode of development, frequency, or pathological physiology of "central respiratory failure" in poliomyelitis.
The earliest reference to supraspinal lesions causing respiratory difficulties in poliomyelitis appears to have been that of Wickman,1 who stated in 1905 that respiratory paralysis could result from involvement of either "the center for the intercostal muscles" or "the nucleus of the pneumogastric nerve." Petrén and Ehrenberg,2 in 1909, more correctly designated "the bulbar center for respiration" as the source of supraspinal respiratory defects in poliomyelitis. Subsequently, a number of authors made direct or passing reference to shallow, irregular breathing with marked variation in rate and depth as characteristic of central respiratory failure.
PLUM F, SWANSON AG. Abnormalities in Central Regulation of Respiration in Acute and Convalescent Poliomyelitis. AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(3):267–285. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340090003001
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