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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Critical Care and Emergency Medicine

Factors Underlying the Early Limb Muscle Weakness in Acute Quadriplegic Myopathy Using an Experimental ICU Porcine Model
Published: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Author: Julien Ochala et al.

by Julien Ochala, Karsten Ahlbeck, Peter J. Radell, Lars I. Eriksson, Lars Larsson

The basic mechanisms underlying acquired generalized muscle weakness and paralysis in critically ill patients remain poorly understood and may be related to prolonged mechanical ventilation/immobilization (MV) or to other triggering factors such as sepsis, systemic corticosteroid (CS) treatment and administration of neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBA). The present study aims at exploring the relative importance of these factors by using a unique porcine model. Piglets were all exposed to MV together with different combinations of endotoxin-induced sepsis, CS and NMBA for five days. Peroneal motor nerve conduction velocity and amplitude of the compound muscle action potential (CMAP) as well as biceps femoris muscle biopsy specimens were obtained immediately after anesthesia on the first day and at the end of the 5-day experimental period. Results showed that peroneal nerve motor conduction velocity is unaffected whereas the size of the CMAP decreases independently of the type of intervention, in all groups after 5 days. Otherwise, despite a preserved size, muscle fibre specific force (maximum force normalized to cross-sectional area) decreased dramatically for animals exposed to MV in combination with CS or/and sepsis. These results suggest that the rapid declines in CMAP amplitude and in force generation capacity are triggered by independent mechanisms with significant clinical and therapeutic implications.