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Glendale Adventist Medical Center
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Glendale, CA 91206
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First Report Ever on Bone Spurs Causing Breathing to Stop

Posted on: 06/22/2006
In this report from England, doctors describe the case of an 80-year old woman who lost consciousness from large cervical osteophytes (bone spurs in the neck) pressing on her windpipe and cutting off her air.

She was rushed to the hospital where an MRI showed the cause of the breathing problems. Surgery was done to remove two large bone spurs pressing on the larynx (voice box) and the pharynx (throat).

Complete relief of symptoms gave proof that the osteophytes were the cause of laryngeal spasms. She reported having a history of problems breathing whenever she flexed (bent) her head forward. She had learned to avoid this position. But on the day of the accident she had a severe laryngeal spasm as she was getting out of her car. Her head was flexed and she was without oxygen causing a black out.

The authors report this is the only case study of its kind. Other cases of difficulty swallowing and altered breathing have been reported linked with cervical (neck) osteophytes. Cervical MRI was very helpful in making the diagnosis.

It's not clear if her symptoms were caused by irritation of the laryngeal nerve and soft tissues around the throat or if the airway was kinked because of the pressure. Either way, her symptoms weere completely gone even up to three months later.

Naeem Ahmed Farooqi, MRCS(Edin), et al. Cervical Osteophytes: A Cause of Potentially Life-Threatening Laryngeal Spasms. Case Report. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. May 2006. Vol. 4. No. 5. Pp. 419-420.

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