Critical illness polyneuropathy and myopathy in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome

Crit Care Med. 2005 Apr;33(4):711-5. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000157969.46388.a2.


Objective: Critical illness polyneuropathy/myopathy (CIP/CIM) is frequently described in critically ill patients who survive severe sepsis. Clinically relevant paresis is major symptom of CIP/CIM. We aimed at determining risk factors and diagnostic value of electrophysiologic testing for CIP/CIM in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Design: Single-center, retrospective analysis, using charts.

Setting: University medical center.

Patients: Fifty consecutive ARDS patients in our intensive care unit.

Interventions: Patient characteristics and clinical course were analyzed. All patients received early electrophysiologic testing. CIP/CIM was diagnosed by the presence of clinical relevant paresis.

Measurements and main results: Clinically relevant paresis was confirmed in 27 ARDS patients (60%), whereas in 18 patients no paresis was determined (controls); five patients died before clinical assessment of paresis was feasible. Patients with paresis were older, had more days on mechanical ventilation, and had increased intensive care unit length of stay compared with controls. Patients who developed paresis had elevated daily peak blood glucose levels during 28 days of intensive care unit treatment: 166 (134, 200) mg/dL in CIP/CIM patients vs. 144 (132, 161) mg/dL in controls (median, quartiles). Twenty-five of 27 patients with paresis revealed reduced motor unit potentials, fibrillation potentials, or positive sharp waves on early electrophysiologic testing indicating CIP/CIM, whereas 16 of 18 control patients did not.

Conclusions: In ARDS patients, paresis is a frequent complication causing prolonged mechanical ventilation and intensive care unit length of stay. An association between hyperglycemia and CIP/CIM has been found. However, since this is a retrospective survey, a causal relation is not clearly supported. In this study, the use of early electrophysiologic testing in ARDS patients was a valuable diagnostic tool for detecting CIP/CIM.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / blood
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Paresis / blood
  • Paresis / diagnosis
  • Paresis / epidemiology
  • Polyneuropathies / blood
  • Polyneuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Polyneuropathies / epidemiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / blood
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Shock, Septic / blood
  • Shock, Septic / drug therapy
  • Shock, Septic / epidemiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hydrocortisone