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Neuromuscul Disord. 1998 May;8(3-4):186-92.

Critical illness myopathy unrelated to corticosteroids or neuromuscular blocking agents.

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Département de Physiologie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Acute myopathy occurs in critically ill patients, receiving neuromuscular blocking agents or corticosteroids during intensive care hospitalisation. We report three patients with acute quadriplegic myopathy, two of whom were not exposed to corticosteroids or neuromuscular blocking agents. The first of these latter two patients had a history of generalised anoxia with coma related to surgery, complicated by multiple organ failure and sepsis. The second patient, suffering from acute leukaemia, developed sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome with the need for mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit. Electrophysiological studies and muscle biopsy findings were consistent with the diagnosis of critical illness myopathy with loss of myosin filaments. Selective loss of myosin was confirmed by biochemical analysis of muscle. These findings demonstrate that acute myopathy with loss of myosin filaments may occur in patients with severe systemic illness without exposure to corticosteroids or neuromuscular blocking agents.

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