Kussmaul Breathing


Other Known AliasesNone

DefinitionForm of hyperpnea (hyperventilation) characterized by a rhythmic, labored, and deep respiration pattern


Clinical Significance Compensatory mechanism of profound metabolic acidosis, classically associated with diabetic ketoacidosis

History – Named after Adolph Kussmaul (1822-1902), a German physician, who noticed it in patients with severe diabetes mellitus and first published the finding in 1874.  Dr. Kussmaul was a prolific physician in the late 1880’s and this is just one of many eponymous distinctions that bears his name.  I am sure his name will come again in this series.


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com/
  5. A. Kussmaul: Zur Lehre vom Diabetes mellitus. Über eine eigenthümliche Todesart bei Diabetischen, über Acetonämie, Glycerin-Behandlung des Diabetes und Einspritzungen von Diastase in’s Blut bei dieser Krankheit., Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, Leipzig, 1874, 14: 1-46.
  6. Young P, Finn BC, Bruetman JE, Buzzi A, Zylberman M. [The outstanding achievements of Adolf Kussmaul]. Revista medica de Chile. 2012; 140(4):538-44. [pubmed]

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