Respiratory Assessment of ALS Patients: A Nationwide Survey of Current Dutch Practice
SourceJournal of Neuromuscular Diseases, 5, 4, (2018), pp. 431-438
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is an established treatment for respiratory failure in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Several studies have shown room for improvement with regard to respiratory care for ALS patients, including latency of referral. These studies focused on the time period starting at the moment of referral to a home ventilation service (HVS) onwards. In the current study we performed a nationwide survey to gain insight in the trajectory before referral. We questioned the assessment of respiratory impairment by ALS physicians/care teams, including criteria for referral to an HVS. METHODS: We requested 40 ALS care teams in the Netherlands to fill in an online questionnaire on respiratory management in ALS patients. RESULTS: Thirty-two ALS care teams (80%) responded. Forced vital capacity was the most frequently used test at each outpatient visit (72%) and often served as a criterion (78%) for referral to an HVS. Other respiratory function measurements that were performed less often included peak cough flow (50%), maximum inspiratory/expiratory pressure (31% /28%) and sniff nasal inspiratory pressure (13%). Morning headache was the most frequently questioned complaint (94%), followed by daytime sleepiness (91%). Dyspnoea and orthopnoea were reported by 38% and 59% as important complaints. Out of all patients under the care of the ALS care teams, the mean estimated proportion of patients that was referred to an HVS was 69% (range 20-100%). When physicians refrained from referral, the most often cited reasons were patient's decision to withhold NIV (94%) and cognitive impairment (50%). Sixteen percent of the respondents stated bulbar impairment as a reason to refrain from referral. CONCLUSION: Despite findings in previous studies on the superiority of SNIP and PCF as compared to FVC, our study shows that a majority of ALS care teams still prefers to use FVC for the assessment of respiratory dysfunction and for the timing of referral to an HVS. Another finding is that bulbar impairment is not an obstacle for referral for NIV.
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