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Volume 15 No. 04
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Accepted Papers

Case Reports

Persistent Central Apnea and Long-Term Outcome After Posterior Fossa Decompressive Surgery for Arnold Chiari Type 1 Malformation in a Pediatric Patient

Abigail Strang, MD; Umakanth Katwa, MD
Sleep Center, Division of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Arnold Chiari malformation (ACM) is the most common cause of central sleep apnea (CSA) in otherwise healthy children. Although there are several case reports and series reported on this topic, there are limited descriptions of the long-term course of these children after the surgical interventions. Posterior fossa decompression surgery to relieve pressure of the herniating cerebellum on the brainstem is generally thought to significantly improve CSA in most cases, however, there are very limited data on the natural course of CSA in children following decompression surgery. There may be a subset of children in whom it may take much longer for CSA to resolve, and in some it may not resolve completely. Hence, these children need to be followed closely with sleep studies to document resolution of CSA. In this case report, we describe a 10-year-old male with severe CSA who was subsequently diagnosed with type 1 ACM and underwent posterior fossa decompressive surgery. However after surgery, although there was improvement in his CSA, he still had a significant degree of residual CSA which required bilevel positive pressure therapy and took more than 7.5 years to resolve. This case report illustrates the need for close follow-up in these children and for providers to understand the natural course so they can accurately counsel families about expectations after surgical treatments.


Strang A, Katwa U. Persistent central apnea and long-term outcome after posterior fossa decompressive surgery for Arnold Chiari type 1 malformation in a pediatric patient. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(4):667–671.

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