Transcutaneous Electric Muscle Stimulation (TEMS) in Septic Patients

2014-07-23 21:10:24 | BioPortfolio


A growing number of critically ill patients survive intensive care to be discharged from hospital. However, critical illness and prolonged bedrest are associated with muscle wasting with subsequent implications for recovery of normal physical function. Thus, one year after discharge, survivors of septic shock have reported prolonged and severe impairment of physical function.

Early interventions employed in the ICU to counteract loss of muscle mass may potentially improve physical outcome and reduce the overall burden of critical illness. As a potential supplement to physical therapy, transcutaneous electric muscle stimulation (TEMS) is a non-invasive method directed at maintaining skeletal muscle function through artificially induced contractions that are independent of patient efforts. TEMS has previously proven effective at preventing loss of muscle mass and force in a number of non-ICU patient groups, but has only been assessed sparsely in an ICU population where both immobilisation and systemic inflammation are present.

Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the effect of early TEMS on muscle volume in patients admitted to the intensive care unit with septic shock. The investigators hypothesized that this intervention would preserve muscle volume during septic shock.


To ensures baseline comparability, eliminates many of the inter-individual confounding factors often present in ICU patients and enhances statistical strength we designed a study where we included a well-defined group of patients with septic shock in a single-legged exercise design, using the contralateral leg as the (paired) control and used a two-channel stimulation approach with 3-D evaluation of muscle volume changes based on CT scans.

After randomization of the quadriceps muscles TEMS is applied on the intervention side for 7 consecutive days, 60 minutes per day. All patients undergoes CT scans of both thighs before and immediately after the 7-day treatment period. The quadriceps muscle is then manually delineated on the transverse CT slices, and muscle volumes are calculated after 3-D reconstruction.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Prevention


Septic Shock


Transcutaneous electrical muscle stimulation


Dept. of Intensive Care, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen




Rigshospitalet, Denmark

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:10:24-0400

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