Kussmaul's respiration

  1. 0 OK - I work in the OR and don't see this much - OK I don't see it at all.

    Last night, my wife and I went to be with her dying uncle (taken off respirator, s/p head injury). This was both an unsettling and profound experience. I've never had the honor (yes, I consider it an honor) of being in the presence of a family member as they were dying - just being there with the family.

    This wonderful gentleman had what I think was Kussmaul's respirations towards the end. I only remember it from school and studies. He had shallow breathing, progressivly got deeper, then progressively got more shallow again, skipping a breath or two, then starting the process all over again. This went on for a while (about 2 to 3 hours), then turned into "gasps" for about the last hour or so. The nurse provided a bolus of MSO4 to help calm the breathing, but didn't help much.

    Does anyone have any knowledge about Kussmaul's? Is it not an acid/base imbalance? I had trouble finding a good link on the net. Is it always an end-of-life breathing pattern? Was it typical to change to gasping, rather than just decreasing in depth-of-breath until it stops?

    Thanks, Dave

    P.S. - I do not believe that he was in pain. He passed peacefully, and the family was comforted by each other, the pastor, and knowing that he was no longer hungering for air and went to be with the Lord and his family who preceeded him in death... Bless all you nurses out there who are with families for the final moments of their loved ones - you are truly special.
  2. Visit  CIRQL8 profile page

    About CIRQL8

    CIRQL8 has '13' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Only the O.R. and proud of it!'. From 'Illinois - not Chicago!'; 44 Years Old; Joined Apr '04; Posts: 289; Likes: 75.

    11 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  TazziRN profile page
    0
    I've seen both gasping and just a gradual cessation of breathing. It's different for everyone, but the gasping is very common. When someone is Kussmauling the morphine given is for the family's benefit, not the pt's......I believe the pt is beyond feeling distress at that point.
  4. Visit  MacD profile page
    0
    Sounds like Cheyne-Stokes breathing not Kussmauls. Any good pathophysiology book or Med-Surg nursing book can explain them both.
    Take care.
  5. Visit  TazziRN profile page
    0
    Whoops.......Kussmauling is done by DKA's, sorry! You're right, MacD!!!
  6. Visit  Lisky90 profile page
    0
    I agree with you that it is an honor to be in the presence of someone in their dying moments and that it is indeed a profound and unsettling experience. I have sadly, had the honor, in the field of nursing that I have chosen, to experience this several times. I have never been able to express in words what the experience is like; your words describe the experience perfectly. It is truly a blessing for someone pass peacefully, if death is a certain outcome. I am sorry for your loss.
    In regards to the breathing. I think, and I could be mistaken that Kussmaul respirations are deep and rapid, with no real repeating pattern...regular or irregular, but with no distinct pattern. I believe that it occurs when someone is in ketoacidosis, a type of metabolic acidosis. The breathing that you describe I believe is called Cheyne-Stokes. Where there is a pattern of shallow breaths, that speed up, stop and then start again. It is also an imminent sign of death, from brain injury. I could be mistaken; without getting out the med-surg books...this is just from memory.
  7. Visit  cardiacRN2006 profile page
    0
    Quote from CIRQL8
    This wonderful gentleman had what I think was Kussmaul's respirations towards the end. I only remember it from school and studies. He had shallow breathing, progressivly got deeper, then progressively got more shallow again, skipping a breath or two, then starting the process all over again. This went on for a while (about 2 to 3 hours), then turned into "gasps" for about the last hour or so. The nurse provided a bolus of MSO4 to help calm the breathing, but didn't help much.
    The first few hours were Cheyne-stokes, and the last ones were agonal.


    Pathophysiology and treatment of Cheyne-Stokes respiration -- Naughton 53 (6): 514 -- Thorax
  8. Visit  CIRQL8 profile page
    0
    Ok, yes, Cheyne-Stokes - correct. Thank you. See what happens when you don't practice it?? This is one reason why I listen to the docs grill the residents and read thsese threads. Keeps my memory a little fresher.

    Thank you all for your kind words.
  9. Visit  leslie :-D profile page
    0
    cheyne-stokes is a cyclic fluctuation in respiratory rate and depth.
    from periods of brief apnea, the breaths become progressively faster and deeper, then slower and more shallow until apnea sets in; then the cycle begins again.

    whereas kussmaul's is indicative of diabetic acidosis or diabetic coma. cheyne stoking can be caused by heart failure, neuro insults and meds.
    and cheyne stokes is very common when one is actively dying.

    leslie
  10. Visit  AnnieOaklyRN profile page
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    That is not kussmauls breath that in cheyne stokes which is typical for the head injured patient with rising ICP and herniation syndrome. Sorry about your loss.

    Swtooth
  11. Visit  GardenDove profile page
    0
    My husband went into Kussmauls when he went into metabolic acidocisis from acute renal failure, secondary to Lymphoma. Nightmarish situation, he ended up in ICU on dopamine and receiving dialysis. He died about a month later. Bad memory...
  12. Visit  Lacie profile page
    2
    Quote from cardiacRN2006
    The first few hours were Cheyne-stokes, and the last ones were agonal.
    Pathophysiology and treatment of Cheyne-Stokes respiration -- Naughton 53 (6): 514 -- Thorax
    The first time you hear these you will never forget them. I agree its an honor to be permitted to be with a family member. My husband suffered a brain aneurysm at age 34. I awoke at 7am on morning to agonal breathing at my side and initiated cpr until the paramedics arrived. I knew that sound soon as I heard it! He was an organ donor therefore we kept him on life support for 3 days before removing. This was a healthy and active man and former marine. I cant tell you how comforting it was during this 3 days in the ICU at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh as the nursing staff not once asked myself or my 2 sons to leave his bedside unless it was a special procedure or personal care but never more than a few minutes. My children were 9 and 15 at the time. This was unusual for me as every ICU I had ever worked in wouldnt allow the children to stay for any length of time. They even allowed my youngest to climb on the bed and stay never once sending him out. Always explaining the equipment and procedures to him. After they harvested his organs they even pushed the limit for me to allow me to spend time with him in the OR afterwards. For my children it gave them time to say what they had to say and also to understand what was happening. This was also thier first experience with death. The organ donation also helped so much with the fact that his death wasnt for nothing either. We later got letters telling us where the organs went and to what type person recieved them (age, children, state, etc). I wish all hospitals would or could offer the treatment I and my children recieved from Mercy during that time by allowing us that time to be with him. Many could take a very good lesson! I remember my son seeing the foley bag and saying "No wonder Daddy's always in the bathroom" lol. Kids find humor in the worse circumstances sometimes. Even the nurses had a good giggle with him on that one.
    asdfghjkl123 and AtomicWoman like this.
  13. Visit  custert121 profile page
    0
    Is there anyone out there that can offer some advise on central sleep apnea. I've been on the resprionics ST machine for over 12 months,and things have not been working out, Is there an average pressure, please
    Advise many Thanks Mike


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