Ataxic respiration

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Ataxic respiration is an abnormal pattern of breathing characterized by complete irregularity of breathing, with irregular pauses and increasing periods of apnea. As the breathing pattern deteriorates, it merges with agonal respirations.

It is caused by damage to the medulla oblongata due to strokes or trauma. It generally indicates a poor prognosis, and usually progresses to complete apnea.

The term is sometimes used interchangeably with Biot's Respirations, but technically, Biot's respirations refers to groups of similar-sized breaths alternating with regular periods of apnea.


  • Michael G. Levitzky, Jimmy M. Cairo, Stanley M. Hall (1990), Introduction to respiratory care, Saunders, ISBN 978-0-7216-1090-0 

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