A Stronger Approach to Weakness in the Intensive Care Unit
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ICU-acquired limb and respiratory muscle weakness is a common, serious ICU syndrome, increasing in frequency with prolonged ICU stay and sepsis. A systematic approach facilitates precise localization of the problem within central or peripheral nervous system. Most cases relate to critical illness polyneuropathy or myopathy or a combination of both (critical illness neuromyopathy). Within the latter entity, the relative contribution of neuropathy versus myopathy varies considerably among affected patients. Muscle enzyme testing, electromyography-nerve conduction and muscle biopsy are valuable investigative tests. Nerve biopsy is less commonly needed, but is useful when vascultis is suspected.