Pharmacological therapy for the prevention and treatment of weakness after critical illness: a systematic review

ERACIP group, Stephen Shepherd, Richard Newman, Stephen Brett, David Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: Intensive care unit acquired weakness (ICUAW) is a common complication of critical illness and can have significant effects upon functional status and quality of life. As part of a the preliminary work to inform the design of an randomized trial of a complex intervention to improve recovery from critical illness, we sought to identify pharmacological interventions which may play a role in this area.
Data Sources: We systematically reviewed the published literature relating to pharmacological intervention for the treatment and prevention of ICUAW.
Study Selection: We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL+, Web of Science and both US and European trial registries up to July 2014 alongside reviews and reference lists from populations with no age or language restrictions. We included studies that reported a measure of muscle structure or physical function as an outcome measure. We estimated pooled odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using data extracted from published papers or where available, original data provided by the authors. Assessment of bias was performed using the Cochrane Collaboration’s risk of bias tool.
Data Synthesis: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. The current body of evidence does not support the use of any pharmacological agent in this setting although maintaining euglycemia may reduce the incidence of critical illness polyneuropathy.
Conclusions: At present no pharmacological intervention can be recommended to prevent or treat ICUAW. Further research is required into this field including into more novel agents such as myostatin inhibitors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1205
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number6
Early online date8 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


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