Polyneuropathies in critically ill patients: a prospective evaluation

Intensive Care Med. 1996 Sep;22(9):849-55. doi: 10.1007/BF02044106.


Objective: To determine the incidence, severity and course of polyneuropathies in patients with sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome combined with multiple organ failure.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: Division of Intensive Care Medicine of the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care and Intensive Care Unit of the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Innsbruck, Austria.

Patients: Twenty-two patients between 23 and 77 years old with sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome combined with multiple organ failure fulfilling strict inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Interventions: Clinical neurologic examination and electro myography/nerve conduction velocity measurements during the stay on the Intensive Care Unit and 2-3 months later.

Measurements and results: In 9 of the 22 patients signs of polyneuropathy were found at the initial clinical investigation and in 7 patients at the follow-up investigation. Electrophysiologic investigation revealed signs of polyneuropathy in 18 patients initially and in 11 patients 2-3 months later.

Conclusion: In our patient population the frequency of the development of polyneuropathy was high (81.8%). Electrophysiologic investigation is superior to clinical neurologic examination in the detection of polyneuropathies.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Critical Illness
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / complications*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis / complications*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis