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.