Electromyographic monitoring of respiratory muscle activity in dyspneic infants and toddlers

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2006 Feb 28;150(2-3):191-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2005.05.029. Epub 2005 Jul 14.


The aim of this study was to investigate whether the changes that occurred in the clinical asthma score (CAS) correlated with the changes in the respiratory electromyographic (EMG) activity over the days during admission to hospital in dyspneic infants and toddlers. Sixteen infants and toddlers (9 males) were studied during admission and 7 days after discharge. The CAS was used to assess the severity of dyspnea and consists of five items: respiration rate, wheezing, retractions, observed dyspnea, and inspiration-to-expiration ratio. Each item was scaled 0, 1, or 2, with a maximum score of 10. Electrical activity from the diaphragm (di) and intercostal muscles (int) was derived from surface electrodes. The logarithm of the EMG-Activity-Ratio (log EMGAR; ratio of mean peak-to-bottom EMG activity during admission to the hospital, to that at baseline, 7 days after discharge) was used as EMG parameter. For assessing the association between the repeated observations of the CAS and the EMG measurements we used the quantity r2 obtained with analysis of covariance. On the day of admission the patients had a mean CAS of 5.9 +/- 1.2. On the day of discharge the mean CAS decreased significantly to 2.1 +/- 1.6, indicating that the CAS returned to normal values. In line with this observation, a significant decrease in the log EMGARdi and log EMGARint was observed during the stay in the hospital. Over all subjects the correlation coefficient (r) of log EMGARdi versus CAS was 0.71, log EMGARint versus CAS was 0.67, and the mean log EMGAR versus CAS was 0.75 (p < 0.01, for all values). The correlation coefficients of subjects of < or = 1 year seemed to be lower than those of subjects of > 1 year of age (p < 0.01) and female subjects showed higher correlation coefficients than males. This study showed a moderate, but significant, relationship between the changes that occurred in the CAS and the changes in respiratory EMG activity during admission to hospital in dyspneic infants and toddlers. Moreover, the correlation coefficients of the combined leads of the intercostals and diaphragm (mean log EMGAR) were higher than those of the separate leads. The EMG measurements would extend diagnostic possibilities and would provide an objective measure to evaluate the clinical course of the disease and the efficacy of therapy in infants and toddlers with recurrent wheezing disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index