Context: Although electrophysiologic and histologic neuromuscular abnormalities are common in intensive care unit (ICU) patients, the clinical incidence of ICU-acquired neuromuscular disorders in patients recovering from severe illness remains unknown.
Objectives: To assess the clinical incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of ICU-acquired paresis (ICUAP) during recovery from critical illness in the ICU and to determine the electrophysiologic and histologic patterns in patients with ICUAP.
Design: Prospective cohort study conducted from March 1999 to June 2000.
Setting: Three medical and 2 surgical ICUs in 4 hospitals in France.
Participants: All consecutive ICU patients without preexisting neuromuscular disease who underwent mechanical ventilation for 7 or more days were screened daily for awakening. The first day a patient was considered awake was day 1. Patients with severe muscle weakness on day 7 were considered to have ICUAP.
Main outcome measures: Incidence and duration of ICUAP, risk factors for ICUAP, and comparative duration of mechanical ventilation between ICUAP and control patients.
Results: Among the 95 patients who achieved satisfactory awakening, the incidence of ICUAP was 25.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.9%-35.2%). All ICUAP patients had a sensorimotor axonopathy, and all patients who underwent a muscle biopsy had specific muscle involvement not related to nerve involvement. The median duration of ICUAP after day 1 was 21 days. Mean (SD) duration of mechanical ventilation after day 1 was significantly longer in patients with ICUAP compared with those without (18.2 [36.3] vs 7.6 [19.2] days; P =.03). Independent predictors of ICUAP were female sex (odds ratio [OR], 4.66; 95% CI, 1.19-18.30), the number of days with dysfunction of 2 or more organs (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.11-1.49), duration of mechanical ventilation (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00-1.22), and administration of corticosteroids (OR, 14.90; 95% CI, 3.20-69.80) before day 1.
Conclusions: Identified using simple bedside clinical criteria, ICUAP was frequent during recovery from critical illness and was associated with a prolonged duration of mechanical ventilation. Our findings suggest an important role of corticosteroids in the development of ICUAP.