Initial Assessment of the Percutaneous Electrical Phrenic Nerve Stimulation System in Patients on Mechanical Ventilation

James O'Rourke, Michal Soták, Gerard F Curley, Aoife Doolan, Tomáš Henlín, Gerard Mullins, Tomáš Tyll, William Omlie, Marco V Ranieri
Critical Care Medicine 2020 February 21

OBJECTIVES: Maintaining diaphragm work using electrical stimulation during mechanical ventilation has been proposed to attenuate ventilator-induced diaphragm dysfunction. This study assessed the safety and feasibility of temporary percutaneous electrical phrenic nerve stimulation on user-specified inspiratory breaths while on mechanical ventilation.

DESIGN: Two-center, nonblinded, nonrandomized study.

SETTING: Hospital ICU.

PATIENTS: Twelve patients mechanically ventilated from 48 hours to an expected 7 days.

INTERVENTIONS: Leads were inserted to lie close to the phrenic nerve in the neck region using ultrasound guidance. Two initial patients had left-sided placement only with remaining patients undergoing bilateral lead placement. Percutaneous electrical phrenic nerve stimulation was used for six 2-hour sessions at 8-hour intervals over 48 hours.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Data collected included lead deployment success, nerve conduction, ventilation variables, work of breathing, electrical stimulation variables, stimulation breath synchrony, and diaphragm thickness measured by ultrasound at baseline, 24, and 48 hours. Primary endpoints included ability to capture the left and/or right phrenic nerves and maintenance of work of breathing within defined limits for 80% of stimulated breaths. Lead insertion was successful in 21 of 22 attempts (95.5%). Analysis of 36,059 stimulated breaths from 10 patients with attempted bilateral lead placement demonstrated a mean inspiratory lag for phrenic nerve stimulation of 23.7 ms (p < 0.001 vs null hypothesis of <88ms). Work of breathing was maintained between 0.2 and 2.0 joules/L 96.8% of the time, exceeding the 80% target. Mean diaphragm thickness increased from baseline by 7.8% at 24 hours (p = 0.022) and 15.0% at 48 hours (p = 0.0001) for patients receiving bilateral stimulation after excluding one patient with pleural effusion. No serious device/procedure-related adverse events were reported.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study demonstrated the ability to safely and successfully place percutaneous electrical phrenic nerve stimulation leads in patients on mechanical ventilation and the feasibility of using this approach to synchronize electrical stimulation with inspiration while maintaining work of breathing within defined limits.

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