OBJECTIVE:Mechanical ventilation contributes to diaphragmatic atrophy and dysfunction, and few techniques exist to assess diaphragmatic function: the purpose of this study was to quantify diaphragm atrophy in a population of critically ill mechanically ventilated patients with ultrasound and to identify risk factors that can worsen diaphragmatic activity.DESIGN:Prospective observational study.SETTING:ICU of a 1,200-bed university hospital.PATIENTS:Newly intubated adult critically ill patients.INTERVENTIONS:Diaphragm thickness in the zone of apposition was measured daily with ultrasound, from the first day of mechanical ventilation till discharge to the main ward.MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:Daily atrophy rate (ΔTdi/d) was calculated as the reduction in percentage from the previous measurement. To analyze the difference in atrophy rate (ΔTdi/d), ventilation was categorized into four classes: spontaneous breathing or continuous positive airway pressure; pressure support ventilation 5-12 cm H2O (low pressure support ventilation); pressure support ventilation greater than 12 cm H2O (high pressure support ventilation); and controlled mechanical ventilation. Multivariate analysis with ventilation support and other clinical variables was performed to identify risk factors for atrophy. Forty patients underwent a total of 153 ultrasonographic evaluations. Mean (SD) ΔTdi/d was -7.5% (12.3) during controlled mechanical ventilation, -5.3% (12.9) at high pressure support ventilation, -1.5% (10.9) at low pressure support ventilation, +2.3% (9.5) during spontaneous breathing or continuous positive airway pressure. At multivariate analysis, only the ventilation support was predictive of diaphragm atrophy rate. Pressure support predicted diaphragm thickness with coefficient -0.006 (95% CI, -0.010 to -0.002; p = 0.006).CONCLUSIONS:In critically ill mechanically ventilated patients, there is a linear relationship between ventilator support and diaphragmatic atrophy rate.
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