Background There are widely discrepant views on the respiratory management of infants with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type I. Typically, management is palliative.
Design A descriptive study of interventions and investigations is reported that were offered to a cohort of 13 children with SMA type I referred to our centre.
Interventions and investigations included sleep studies, provision of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) for ventilatory support/dependency and for physiotherapy and the use of mechanical insufflation/exsufflation (MI-E).
Results NIPPV was provided for the following indications: continuous positive airways pressure flow driver dependency (n=3), nocturnal hypoventilation (n=3), to enable successful extubation (n=2), in anticipation of respiratory decompensation (n=3), and oxygen dependency/decompensation (n=2). NIPPV and MI-E were used for successful protocol-led extubations (n=9) but not non protocol-led successes (n=3). NIPPV was essential for discharge home in patients with ventilatory dependency (n=7) and was used for palliation of respiratory symptoms (n=4). Chest wall shape improved with NIPPV. The parents of children who died (n=5) were positive about the use of these techniques.
Conclusion NIPPV can be used to facilitate discharge home, and MI-E is helpful in this group. This symptom and goal-directed approach can be used to inform medical decision making and to help parents make informed choices about the appropriateness of respiratory interventions in SMA type I.
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