Combined intercostal and diaphragm pacing to provide artificial ventilation in patients with tetraplegia

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Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of combined intercostal and diaphragm pacing to maintain independence from mechanical ventilation. Design: A prospective trial. Setting: Clinical research center at a large tertiary hospital. Participants: Four ventilator-dependent subjects with spinal cord injury with only unilateral phrenic nerve function. Intervention: During an initial surgical procedure, a multipolar epidural disk electrode was positioned on the ventral surface of the upper-thoracic spinal cord via a hemilaminectomy to activate the inspiratory intercostal muscles. A phrenic nerve electrode was implanted unilaterally via the thoracic approach. Main Outcome Measures: Inspired volume production and duration that subjects could be comfortably maintained when off mechanical ventilatory support. Results: Initial maximum inspired volumes from combined intercostal and diaphragm stimulation ranged between. 23 and. 93L and significantly increased over the course of reconditioning period to between 0.55 and 1.31L; subjects could be maintained off mechanical ventilation between 16 and 24 hours a day. Conclusions: Combined intercostal and unilateral diaphragm pacing may be a useful therapeutic modality capable of maintaining long-term ventilatory support in patients with only unilateral phrenic nerve function. © 2005 by American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.




DiMarco, A. F., Takaoka, Y., & Kowalski, K. E. (2005). Combined intercostal and diaphragm pacing to provide artificial ventilation in patients with tetraplegia. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 86(6), 1200–1207.

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