Paresis acquired in the intensive care unit: a prospective multicenter study

JAMA. 2002 Dec 11;288(22):2859-67. doi: 10.1001/jama.288.22.2859.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Critical Illness*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Paresis / epidemiology*
  • Paresis / etiology
  • Paresis / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Risk Factors


  • Glucocorticoids