Background: Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), which often occurs in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), may be a predictor for poor outcome. Phrenic nerve stimulation (PNS) may interrupt CSR in patients with CHF. We report the clinical use of transvenous PNS in patients with CHF and CSR. Methods: Nineteen patients with CHF and CSR were enrolled. A single stimulation lead was placed at the junction between the superior vena cava and brachiocephalic vein or in the left-side pericardiophrenic vein. PNS stimulation was performed using Eupnea System device (RespiCardia Inc). Respiratory properties were assessed before and during PNS. PNS was assessed at a maximum of 10 mA. Results: Successful stimulation capture was achieved in 16 patients. Failure to capture occurred in three patients because of dislocation of leads. No adverse events were seen under maximum normal stimulation parameters for an overnight study. When PNS was applied following a series of central sleep apneic events, a trend toward stabilization of breathing and heart rate as well as improvement in oxygen saturation was seen. Compared with pre-PNS, during PNS there was a significant decrease in apnea-hypopnea index (33.8 ± 9.3 vs 8.1 ± 2.3, P = .00), an increase in mean and minimal oxygen saturation as measured by pulse oximetry (89.7% ± 1.6% vs 94.3% ± 0.9% and 80.3% ± 3.7% vs 88.5% ± 3.3%, respectively, all P = .00) and end-tidal CO 2 (38.0 ± 4.3 mm Hg vs 40.3 ± 3.1 mm Hg, P = .02), but no significant difference in sleep efficiency (74.6% ± 4.1% vs 73.7% ± 5.4%, P = .36). Conclusions: The preliminary results showed that in a small group of patients with CHF and CSR, 1 night of unilateral transvenous PNS improved indices of CSR and was not associated with adverse events. Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT00909259; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov. © 2012 American College of Chest Physicians.
Department of Respirology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China