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New device implanted by surgeons help paralyzed patients breathe easier
Date:11/25/2009

n the diaphragm, the muscle is stimulated to expand and contract. This action more closely simulates normal breathing than external ventilators.

"This device has some advantages over traditional ventilators," Dr. DiMaio said. "Patients have more mobility because they don't have an external ventilator to carry around, and the surgery to implant the device is less invasive than previous treatments."

Researchers said they hope the new device can improve quality of life and decrease incidents of infections that can affect patients who are on external ventilators. Prior generations of phrenic nerve stimulators were inserted by making an incision in the neck and chest. Electrodes were then placed directly on the nerve, rather than the diaphragm.

"Although phrenic nerve stimulation as a way to induce breathing in these patients isn't a new concept, we think the NeuRX will alleviate some symptoms present with previous stimulators," said Dr. Jose Viroslav, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and pulmonary and critical care specialist. "One of the problems that arose before was scarring and fatigue of the phrenic nerve. This stimulator is placed on the diaphragm, and the pulses are more diffuse."

Dr. Viroslav said another major advantage with the NeuRX device is that it helps with speech.

"Patients on diaphragmatic pacers have more of a normal ventilation, and their vocal cords are not bypassed therefore they can talk," he said. "Breathing with the diaphragm is normal, and if you can do it with implantable electrodes, you are closer to breathing normally with the advantages of speech, less infection, and more mobility."


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Contact: Katherine Morales
katherine.morales@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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