< Back to previous page


Catathrenia in severe obstructive sleep apnea: A novel entity never described before

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

STUDY OBJECTIVES: Catathrenia, derived from the Greek κατά (kata) meaning below and θρηνώ (threnia) to lament, is characterized by expiratory groaning episodes during sleep. In a case series of nine patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea, we observed a peculiar groaning entity that has not been described before. METHODS: We described and illustrated the cases with polysomnographic tracings and additional audio recordings. RESULTS: All patients were men, obese (body mass index 39 ± 6 kg/m2) with an apnea-hypopnea index ranging from 47 to 125/h. In addition, we identified groaning events that were consistently preceded by a cortical arousal associated with a "rescue" respiration after an obstructive hypopnea or apnea. These events exhibited characteristics of "mixed apnea's", but the "central apnea-like part" was a prolonged expiratory groaning phase, with immediately after the terminal expiratory snort appearance of an obstructive apnea. In case the duration of this expiration was at least 10 s we calculated these events separately and the index was 8.4 ± 7.7/h. More rarely (index 0.6 ± 0.5/h) a "central apnea mimicking event" with groaning not followed by an obstruction, was observed. We also observed groaning episodes during expiration with a shorter duration (less than 10 s), not calculated separately. Positive airway pressure, which was well tolerated, eliminated these events. CONCLUSIONS: This novel catathrenia entity preceded by a cortical arousal and "rescue" respiration in response to obstructive events is intriguing. Possible explanations for these observations are further discussed in this article.
ISSN: 1389-9457
Volume: 112
Pages: 239 - 245
Publication year:2023