After high cervical percutaneous cordotomy for pain in malignant disease, 12 patients died during sleep at postoperative intervals between 1 and 8 days. Nine died after a first cordotomy and three after a second (contralateral) procedure. All except one had known pulmonary disease before operation. The operated segment of the spinal cord (C2) was studied histologically after death. Superposition of lesion outlines made it possible to determine those parts of the lesioned areas common to all unilateral and bilateral cases respectively. All cases dying of presumed respiratory dysfunction syndrome had lesions involving the region of the anterolateral funiculus in the C2 segment containing "pain" fibres activated from the second to fifth thoracic dermatomes. The fibres whose destruction appeared to be responsible for respiratory dysfunction syndrome were completely intermingled with ascending "pain" fibres. The possibility of these fibres being afferent in function is discussed.
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