Rationale: Diaphragm dysfunction is frequently observed in critically ill patients with difficult weaning from mechanical ventilation. Objectives: To evaluate the effects of temporary transvenous diaphragm neurostimulation on weaning outcome and maximal inspiratory pressure. Methods: Multicenter, open-label, randomized, controlled study. Patients aged ⩾18 years on invasive mechanical ventilation for ⩾4 days and having failed at least two weaning attempts received temporary transvenous diaphragm neurostimulation using a multielectrode stimulating central venous catheter (bilateral phrenic stimulation) and standard of care (treatment) (n = 57) or standard of care (control) (n = 55). In seven patients, the catheter could not be inserted, and in seven others, pacing therapy could not be delivered; consequently, data were available for 43 patients. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients successfully weaned. Other endpoints were mechanical ventilation duration, 30-day survival, maximal inspiratory pressure, diaphragm-thickening fraction, adverse events, and stimulation-related pain. Measurements and Main Results: The incidences of successful weaning were 82% (treatment) and 74% (control) (absolute difference [95% confidence interval (CI)], 7% [-10 to 25]), P = 0.59. Mechanical ventilation duration (mean ± SD) was 12.7 ± 9.9 days and 14.1 ± 10.8 days, respectively, P = 0.50; maximal inspiratory pressure increased by 16.6 cm H2O and 4.8 cm H2O, respectively (difference [95% CI], 11.8 [5 to 19]), P = 0.001; and right hemidiaphragm thickening fraction during unassisted spontaneous breathing was +17% and -14%, respectively, P = 0.006, without correlation with changes in maximal inspiratory pressure. Serious adverse event frequency was similar in both groups. Median stimulation-related pain in the treatment group was 0 (no pain). Conclusions: Temporary transvenous diaphragm neurostimulation did not increase the proportion of successful weaning from mechanical ventilation. It was associated with a significant increase in maximal inspiratory pressure, suggesting reversal of the course of diaphragm dysfunction. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03096639) and the European Database on Medical Devices (CIV-17-06-020004).
Keywords: diaphragm weakness; mechanical ventilation; ventilator-induced diaphragmatic dysfunction; weaning.