The Info List - Agonal Respiration

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Agonal respiration, gasping respiration or agonal breathing is an abnormal pattern of breathing and brainstem reflex characterized by gasping, labored breathing, accompanied by strange vocalizations and myoclonus.[1]:164, 166 Possible causes include cerebral ischemia, extreme hypoxia (inadequate oxygen supply to tissue) or even anoxia (total depletion of oxygen). Agonal breathing is an extremely serious medical sign requiring immediate medical attention, as the condition generally progresses to complete apnea and heralds death. The duration of agonal respiration can be as brief as two breaths or last up to several hours.[1] The term is sometimes (inaccurately) used to refer to labored, gasping breathing patterns accompanying organ failure (e.g. liver failure and renal failure), SIRS, septic shock, and metabolic acidosis (see Kussmaul breathing, or in general any labored breathing, including Biot's respirations and ataxic respirations). Correct usage would restrict the term to the last breaths before death.[citation needed] Agonal respirations are also commonly seen in cases of cardiogenic shock or cardiac arrest where agonal respirations may persist for several minutes after cessation of heartbeat.[1] The presence of agonal respirations in these cases indicates a more favorable prognosis than in cases of cardiac arrest without agonal respirations. In an unresponsive, pulseless patient in cardiac arrest, agonal gasps are not effective breaths. Agonal respiration occurs in 40% of cardiac arrests experienced outside a hospital environment.[2] References[edit]

^ a b c Perkin, RM; Resnik, DB (June 2002). "The agony of agonal respiration: is the last gasp necessary?". Journal of Medical Ethics. 28 (3): 164–9. doi:10.1136/jme.28.3.164. PMC 1733591 . PMID 12042401.  ^ Clark, Jill J; Larsen, Mary Pat; Culley, Linda L; Graves, Judith Reid; Eisenberg, Mickey S (December 1992). "Incidence of agonal respirations in sudden cardiac arrest". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 21 (12): 1464–1467. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(05)80062-9. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

"Incidence of Agonal Respirations in Sudden Cardiac Arrest". EMD Program. King County, Washington. 30 August 2003. Archived from the original on 2005-02-10. Retrieved 25 June 2012.  Bång, Angela; Herlitz, Johan; Martinell, Sven (2003). "Interaction between emergency medical dispatcher and caller in suspected out-of-hospital cardiac arrest calls with focus on agonal breathing. A review of 100 tape recordings of true cardiac arrest cases". Resuscitation. 56 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1016/S0300-9572(02)00278-2. PMID 12505735.  Hazinski, Mary Fran (ed.). BLS for healthcare providers (New ed.). Dallas, Tex.: American Heart Association. ISBN 1616690399. 

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Symptoms and signs relating to the respiratory system (R04–R07, 786)

Medical examination and history taking


Stethoscope Respiratory sounds

Stridor Wheeze Crackles Rhonchi Stertor Squawk Pleural friction rub Fremitus Bronchophony Terminal secretions

Elicited findings

Percussion Pectoriloquy Whispered pectoriloquy Egophony





Dyspnea Hyperventilation Hypoventilation Hyperpnea Tachypnea Hypopnea Bradypnea


Agonal respiration Biot's respiration Cheyne–Stokes respiration Kussmaul breathing Ataxic respiration


Respiratory distress Respiratory arrest Orthopnea/Platypnea Trepopnea Aerophagia Asphyxia Breath
holding Mouth breathing Snoring


Chest pain

In children Precordial catch syndrome Pleurisy

Nail clubbing Cyanosis Cough Sputum Hemoptysis Epistaxis Silhouette sign Post-nasal drip Hiccup COPD

Hoover's sign


Curschmann's spirals Charcot–Leyden crystals

chronic bronchitis

Reid index


Kveim test

pulmonary embolism

Hampton hump Westermark sign

pulmonary edema

Kerley lines

Hamman's sign Golden S sign

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