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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2018 Oct 1;125(4):1062-1068. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00446.2018. Epub 2018 Jul 19.

Optimal electrode position for abdominal functional electrical stimulation.

Author information

1
Neuroscience Research Australia, Randwick, New South Wales , Australia.
2
School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales , Kensington, New South Wales , Australia.
3
Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales , Australia.

Abstract

Abdominal functional electrical stimulation (abdominal FES) improves respiratory function. Despite this, clinical use remains low, possibly due to lack of agreement on the optimal electrode position. This study aimed to ascertain the optimal electrode position for abdominal FES, assessed by expiratory twitch pressure. Ten able-bodied participants received abdominal FES using electrodes placed: 1) on the posterolateral abdominal wall and at the motor points of 2) the external oblique muscles plus rectus abdominis muscles, and 3) the external obliques alone. Gastric (Pga) and esophageal (Pes) twitch pressures were measured using a gastroesophageal catheter. Single-stimulation pulses were applied at functional residual capacity during step increments in stimulation current to maximal tolerance or until Pga plateaued. Stimulation applied on the posterolateral abdominal wall led to a 71% and 53% increase in Pga and Pes, respectively, compared with stimulation of the external oblique and rectus abdominis muscles ( P < 0.001) and a 95% and 56% increase in Pga and Pes, respectively, compared with stimulation of the external oblique muscles alone ( P < 0.001). Stimulation of both the external oblique and rectus abdominis muscles led to an 18.3% decrease in Pga compared with stimulation of only the external oblique muscles ( P = 0.040), with inclusion of the rectus abdominis having no effect on Pes ( P = 0.809). Abdominal FES applied on the posterolateral abdominal wall generated the highest expiratory twitch pressures. As expiratory pressure is a good indicator of expiratory muscle strength and, thus, cough efficacy, we recommend this electrode position for all therapeutic applications of abdominal FES. NEW & NOTEWORTHY While abdominal functional electrical stimulation (abdominal FES) can improve respiratory function, clinical use remains low. This is at least partly due to lack of agreement on the optimal electrode position. Therefore, this study aimed to ascertain the optimal electrode position for abdominal FES. We show that electrodes placed on the posterolateral abdominal wall generated the highest expiratory twitch pressures. As such, we recommend this electrode position for all therapeutic applications of abdominal FES.

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