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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 5, Issue 2, Pages 139-142
Case Report

Neuralgic Amyotrophy: A Rare Cause of Bilateral Diaphragmatic Paralysis

Neil Shinder, Alasdair Polson, Elizabeth Pringle, and Denis E O'Donnell

Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston and Division of Neurology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neuralgic amyotrophy, also known as brachial neuritis, is a well described clinical entity. Diaphragmatic dysfunction, as a result of phrenic nerve root involvement (cervical roots 3 to 5), is an uncommon, but increasingly recognized association. The case of a previously healthy 61-year-old woman who, after a prodrome of neck and shoulder discomfort, presented with severe orthopnea is described. Pulmonary function and electrophysiological studies led to a diagnosis of bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis. The patient's clinical course and the exclusion of other nerve entrapment syndromes and neurological disorders strongly favoured the diagnosis of neuralgic amyotrophy.