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Case Report: Bilateral diaphragmatic dysfunction due to Borrelia Burgdorferi

Suhail Basunaid1, Chris van der Grinten1, Nicole Cobben1,2, Astrid Otte2, Roy Sprooten2, Rohde Gernot1




In this case report we describe a rare case of bilateral diaphragmatic dysfunction due to Lyme disease.

Case report:

A 62-years-old male presented to the hospital because of flu-like symptoms. During initial evaluation a bilateral diaphragmatic weakness with orthopnea and nocturnal hypoventilation was observed, without a known aetiology. Bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis was confirmed by fluoroscopy with a positive sniff test. The patient was referred to our centre for chronic non-invasive nocturnal ventilation (cNPPV). Subsequent investigations revealed evidence of anti-Borrelia seroactivity in EIA-IgG and IgG-blot, suggesting a recent infection with Lyme disease, and resulted in a 4-week treatment with oral doxycycline. The symptoms of nocturnal hypoventilation were successfully improved with cNPPV. However, our patient still shows impaired diaphragmatic function but he is no longer fully dependent on nocturnal ventilatory support.


Lyme disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of diaphragmatic dysfunction. It is a tick-borne illness caused by one of the three pathogenic species of the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, present in Europe. A delay in recognizing the symptoms can negatively affect the success of treatment. Non-invasive mechanical ventilation (NIV) is considered a treatment option for patients with diaphragmatic paralysis.

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One Comment

  1. A lot of people come down with breathing difficulty with Lyme. It’s because it infects the spinal nerves that expand the diaphragm.

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