Quantitative neuromuscular ultrasound in intensive care unit-acquired weakness: A systematic review

Aaron Bunnell, John Ney, Alfred Gellhorn, Catherine L. Hough

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Intensive care unit-acquired weakness (ICU-AW) causes significant morbidity and impairment in critically ill patients. Recent advances in neuromuscular ultrasound (NMUS) allow evaluation of neuromuscular pathology early in critical illness. Here we review application of ultrasound in ICU-AW. MEDLINE-indexed articles were searched for terms relevant to ultrasound and critical illness. Two reviewers evaluated the resulting abstracts (n=218) and completed full-text review (n=13). Twelve studies and 1 case report were included. Ten studies evaluated muscle thickness or cross-sectional area (CSA): 8 reported a decrease, and 2 reported no change. Two studies reported preservation of muscle thickness in response to neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and 1 found no preservation. One study found decreases in gray-scale standard deviation, but no change in echogenicity. One study described increases in echogenicity and fasciculations. Ultrasound reliability in ICU-AW is not fully established. Further investigation is needed to identify ultrasound measures that reliably predict clinical, electrodiagnostic, and pathologic findings of ICU-AW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-708
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical illness
  • Critical illness myopathy
  • Critical illness polyneuropathy, intensive care unit acquired weakness
  • Quantitative neuromuscular ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative neuromuscular ultrasound in intensive care unit-acquired weakness: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this