Diaphragm pacing (DP) by electrical stimulation of the phrenic nerve offers important advantages to a highly select group of patients with respiratory paralysis. The patient wears an external radiofrequency (RF) transmitter over an implanted receiver, and a stimulating current is induced without the need for any transcutaneous wires. We review the conditions and requirements of patients who may benefit most from DP. We outline the preoperative evaluation and procedures for surgical implantation. We discuss the risk of diaphragmatic fatigue posed by initiation of DP and the use of gradual conditioning to limit this problem. Other problems encountered by patients in the course of DP can be minimized by well-instructed home caregivers and by systematic medical follow-up. Although a few patients derive considerable benefit from DP, many patients with respiratory paralysis are better treated by less invasive means such as nasal bilevel positive airway pressure or intermittent positive pressure ventilation, which we also review.
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View details for PubMedID 9415384