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Diaphragm pacing failure secondary to deteriorated chest wall mechanics: When a good diaphragm does not suffice to take a good breath in

Lila Layachi, Marjolaine Georges, Jésus Gonzalez-Bermejo, Anne-Laure Brun, Thomas Similowski, Capucine Morélot-Panzini
Respiratory Medicine Case Reports 2015, 15: 20-3
Diaphragm pacing allows certain quadriplegic patients to be weaned from mechanical ventilation. Pacing failure can result from device dysfunction, neurotransmission failure, or degraded lung mechanics (such as atelectasis). We report two cases where progressive pacing failure was attributed to deteriorated chest wall mechanics. The first patient suffered from cervical spinal cord injury at age 45, was implanted with a phrenic stimulator (intrathoracic), successfully weaned from ventilation, and permanently paced for 7 years. Pacing effectiveness then slowly declined, finally attributed to rib cage stiffening due to ankylosing spondylitis. The second patient became quadriplegic after meningitis at age 15, was implanted with a phrenic stimulator (intradiaphragmatic) and weaned. After a year hypoventilation developed without obvious cause. In relationship with complex endocrine disorders, the patient had gained 31 kg. Pacing failure was attributed to excessive mechanical inspiratory load. Rib cage mechanics abnormalities should be listed among causes of diaphragm pacing failure and it should be kept in mind that a "good diaphragm" is not sufficient to produce a "good inspiration".

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