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Approach to critical illness polyneuropathy and myopathy
  1. S Pati,
  2. J A Goodfellow,
  3. S Iyadurai,
  4. D Hilton-Jones
  1. John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Dr S Pati, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK; brainsurgeon98{at}


A newly acquired neuromuscular cause of weakness has been found in 25–85% of critically ill patients. Three distinct entities have been identified: (1) critical illness polyneuropathy (CIP); (2) acute myopathy of intensive care (itself with three subtypes); and (3) a syndrome with features of both 1 and 2 (called critical illness myopathy and/or neuropathy or CRIMYNE). CIP is primarily a distal axonopathy involving both sensory and motor nerves. Electroneurography and electromyography (ENG–EMG) is the gold standard for diagnosis. CIM is a proximal as well as distal muscle weakness affecting both types of muscle fibres. It is associated with high use of non-depolarising muscle blockers and corticosteroids. Avoidance of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of developing CIP or CIM. Outcome is variable and depends largely on the underlying illness. Detailed history, careful physical examination, review of medication chart and analysis of initial investigations provides invaluable clues towards the diagnosis.

  • critical illness myopathy
  • critical illness polyneuropathy
  • acute myopathy of intensive care
  • neuromuscular weakness
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  • Competing interests: None declared.

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