Information for the public

This procedure can only be done as part of a research study. This is because there is not enough evidence to be sure how well it works and how safe it is.

Some patients with high spinal cord damage need a mechanical ventilator to help them breathe. Intramuscular diaphragm stimulation involves keyhole abdominal surgery (laparoscopy) to implant electrodes into the diaphragm. Wires from the electrodes run under the skin to a battery-operated electrical stimulation system, which causes the diaphragm to contract as in normal breathing. The aim of the procedure is to strengthen the diaphragm, allowing patients to breathe without a ventilator and to improve their quality of life.

NHS Choices may be a good place to find out more. NICE’s information on interventional procedures guidance has more about what a procedure is and how we assess them.

Is this procedure right for me?

If you’ve been offered this procedure, your healthcare professionals should discuss with you what is involved, and explain the research study, and tell you about the risks and benefits. They should talk with you about your options, and listen carefully to your views and concerns. Your family can be involved too, if you wish. All of this should happen before you agree (consent) to have the procedure and to be in the study. You should also be told how to find more information about the procedure. Read more about making decisions about your care.

Some questions to think about

  • What does the procedure involve?
  • What are the possible benefits? How likely am I to get them?
  • What are the risks or side effects? How likely are they?
  • What happens if the procedure doesn’t work or something goes wrong?
  • What happens if I don’t want the procedure? Are there other treatments available?

ISBN: 978-1-4731-2682-4

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