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a condition in which patients have lost autonomic control of respiration and become apneic upon falling asleep; it is due to lesions or surgery of the high spinal cord or brainstem; named after Ondine, a water nymph in Greek mythology who caused a mortal who loved her to sleep forever.
Etymology: L, Undine, mythic water nymph; ME, curs, invocation
apnea caused by loss of automatic control of respiration. The term refers to a syndrome in patients with a defect in central chemoreceptor responsiveness to carbon dioxide. The patient is able to breathe voluntarily but has hypercapnia and hypoxemia. Ondine's curse may result in pickwickian syndrome or sleep apnea and may be one cause of sudden infant death syndrome. The syndrome may occur as a result of opioid or other drug overdose, after bulbar poliomyelitis or encephalitis, or after surgery involving the brainstem or the higher segments of the cervical spinal cord, as in cervical cordotomy for intractable pain.
(1) Primary alveolar (congenital central) hypoventilation (central apnoea)
(2) Sleep apnoea syndrome
On·dine's curse(on-dēn' kŭrs)
Idiopathic central alveolar hypoventilation in which involuntary control of respiration is depressed, but voluntary control of ventilation is not impaired.
[Ondine, char. in play by J. Giraudoux, based on Undine, Ger. myth. char.]