Respiratory management strategies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy: practice variation amongst Canadian sub-specialists

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2013 Jan;48(1):59-66. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22548. Epub 2012 Mar 26.


Purpose: Respiratory management of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is not well studied and may vary across centers and practitioners. Our objective was to describe and compare the respiratory management practices of Canadian Pediatric Respirologists and Neuromuscular specialists for children with DMD.

Methods: A web-based survey was sent to all 56 practicing Canadian Pediatric Respirologists and to all 24 members of the Canadian Pediatric Neuromuscular Group (CPNG) who follow children with neuromuscular diseases. The survey included 28 questions about timing and indications for respiratory consultation, sleep disordered breathing (SDB) assessments, and treatments.

Results: Thirty eight (68%) pediatric respirologists and 17 (71%) CPNG members responded. Respirologists provide initial consultation after a patient's first admission to hospital with respiratory complications (14/38, 37%) and when symptoms of SDB are present (14/38, 37%). Half of the CPNG members request initial Respirology consultation at the time of DMD diagnosis. Both groups request routine pulmonary function tests. Ninety-six percent of respirologists use maximal inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory pressures (MEP) to assess respiratory muscle strength, whereas 82% of CPNG members additionally use peak cough flow. Assessment for SDB is requested by both groups when pulmonary function is abnormal or patients are symptomatic. Respirologists favor polysomnography, whereas CPNG members use overnight pulse oximetry. Nocturnal non-invasive ventilation and lung volume recruitment (LVR) are used in a minority of patients.

Conclusions: Respirologists and CPNG members provide similar respiratory management of DMD patients, but differ in timing of consultation and choice of tests for pulmonary function and SDB. Canadian practices differ from the American Thoracic Society and Centre for Disease Control guidelines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / complications*
  • Pediatrics
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pulmonary Medicine
  • Respiration Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology
  • Respiration Disorders / therapy*