Predictors of severe chest infections in pediatric neuromuscular disorders

Neuromuscul Disord. 2006 May;16(5):325-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2006.02.003. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


Chest infections are serious complications in neuromuscular disorders. The predictive values of lung and respiratory muscle function including peak cough flow still remain unclear. We performed retrospective analysis of 46 children and adolescents (12.7+/-3.7 years) in whom lung function, respiratory muscle function and peak cough flows had been obtained. Data were related to: (1). number of chest infections and days of antibiotic treatment the year prior to the study and (2). history of severe chest infection requiring hospital admission. The number of chest infections and the number of days treated with antibiotics correlated with Inspiratory Vital Capacity IVC, peak cough flow PCF and Peak Expiratory Pressure PEP. Twenty-two patients were hospitalized at least once due to severe chest infection. IVC (0.65 vs. 1.44 l; P<0.0001) and PCF (116 vs. 211 l/min; P<0.0005) in these patients were significantly lower than in the non-hospitalized group. IVC<1.1l and PCF<160 l/min were specific and sensitive thresholds to discriminate between patients who had already suffered severe chest infections and those who had not. Therefore, spirometry and peak cough flow are reliable tests to identify patients at high risk for severe chest infections. Patients with IVC below 1.1l and/or PCF below 160 l/min should be well monitored and introduced to assisted coughing techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Cough / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inspiratory Capacity / physiology
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Paralysis / complications
  • Respiratory Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Paralysis / prevention & control
  • Respiratory System / microbiology
  • Respiratory System / pathology
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity / physiology