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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Aug;146(2):517-9.

Myopathy in severe asthma.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine and Intensive Care, Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Australia.


Myopathy complicating the therapy of severe asthma has been recently described in several case reports. Twenty-five consecutive patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at this hospital for mechanical ventilation for severe asthma were studied for the incidence of creatine kinase (CK) enzyme rise and for the development of clinical myopathy. Pharmacologic therapy was standardized, every patient receiving corticosteroids and aminophylline intravenously and salbutamol both nebulized and intravenously. Twenty-two patients received muscle relaxant therapy with vecuronium. In 19 of 25 (76%) of patients there was elevation of CK levels to a median of 1,575 U/L (range, 66 to 7,430) occurring 3.6 +/- 1.5 days after admission. In nine patients there was clinically detectable myopathy. The presence of either myopathy or CK enzyme rise was associated with a significant prolongation of ventilation time. Arterial blood gas measurements on admission to the ICU revealed a pH (mean +/- SD) of 7.07 +/- 0.21, a PaCO2 of 87.2 +/- 32.7, and a PaO2 (with a high FIO2) of 129 +/- 97 mm Hg; however, no correlation was found between the severity of initial metabolic disturbance and the subsequent development of myopathy. There was no association between the type of corticosteroid administered and the subsequent development of myopathy. Patients with myopathy had received a significantly higher total dose of vecuronium when compared with those who did not develop myopathy (p < 0.001, Kruskal Wallis test). We have therefore found a surprisingly high incidence of CK enzyme rise and myopathy in this group of mechanically ventilated patients with severe asthma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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