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Biot’s breathing
  1. Eelco F M Wijdicks
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor E F M Wijdicks
 Division of Critical Care Neurology, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, W8B, 200 First Street, SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA; wijde{at}

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Neurological disease may affect breathing cycles and rhythms.1 Several classic central periodic breathing patterns have been described. Biot’s breathing—also known as ataxic breathing—is a breathing pattern in patients with acute neurological disease, but is rarely mentioned in the neurological literature. It can be contrasted with Cheyne–Stokes breathing (periodic stereotypical crescendo–decrescendo hyperpnoea followed by apnoea) and apneustic breathing (periodic prolonged inspiratory hold). Biot’s breathing may be a rare phenomenon or just not noticed. Biot’s contribution is discussed here.


Camille Biot was born in Chatenoy-le-Royal (Saône-et-Loire), France, on 19 December 1850. He made his seminal observations while an intern in the Hôtel Dieu Hospital in Lyon, France. After his residency, he practised medicine in Maçon in 1875. He wrote on other diverse medical topics unrelated to breathing, as well as articles about Greco–Roman–Maconne archeology. He became a member of L’Académie de Macon (Société des arts, sciences, belles lettres archeology, agriculture et encouragement au bien de Saône-et-Loire, fig 1). He died in Macon in 1918.2

Figure 1

 Dr Camille Biot.


Biot wrote two main articles on breathing patterns. One large exploratory work focused on his observations on Cheyne–Stokes breathing.3,4 In each paper, he described patients who were admitted to the Hôtel Dieu Hospital with Cheyne–Stokes respiration, his major interest. In his first article, curiously in a postscript, he described a patient who had respiratory movements that gradually decreased and increased but were irregular (fig 2), …

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