Diaphragm pacing in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A literature review


  • Disclosure: R.S.B. is a speaker for Avanir, Lilly, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, has consulted for UCB Pharmaceuticals, and has had recent grant support from Cytokinetics, Biogen, and Neuraltis Pharmaceuticals.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains a rapidly progressive fatal degenerative disease of motor neurons for which there are few interventions to slow disease progression or improve quality of life. A diaphragm pacing system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September 2011 for ALS under a Humanitarian Device Exemption. News of this approval has been met with a combination of excitement and uncertainty by members of the ALS community. We review the currently available data on the diaphragm pacing system and its use in ALS. Diaphragm pacing appears to be reasonably safe in carefully selected patients, but flaws in the reporting on it thus far preclude conclusions regarding efficacy. Further study is needed. Muscle Nerve 46: 1–8, 2012