Diaphragm neuromechanical coupling (NMC), which reflects the efficiency of conversion of neural activation to transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi), is increasingly recognized to be a useful clinical index of diaphragm function and respiratory mechanics in neuromuscular weakness and cardiorespiratory disease. However, the current gold standard assessment of diaphragm NMC requires invasive measurements of Pdi and crural diaphragm electromyography (oesEMGdi), which complicates the measurement of diaphragm NMC in clinical practice. This is the first study to compare invasive measurements of diaphragm NMC (iNMC) using the relationship between Pdi and oesEMGdi, with noninvasive assessment of NMC (nNMC) using surface mechanomyography (sMMGlic) and electromyography (sEMGlic) of lower chest wall inspiratory muscles. Both invasive and noninvasive measurements were recorded in twelve healthy adult subjects during an inspiratory threshold loading protocol. A linear relationship between noninvasive sMMGlic and sEMGlic measurements was found, resulting in little change in nNMC with increasing inspiratory load. By contrast, a curvilinear relationship between invasive Pdi and oesEMGdi measurements was observed, such that there was a progressive increase in iNMC with increasing inspiratory threshold load. Progressive recruitment of lower ribcage muscles, serving to enhance the mechanical advantage of the diaphragm, may explain the more linear relationship between sMMGlic and sEMGlic (both representing lower intercostal plus costal diaphragm activity) than between Pdi and crural oesEMGdi. Noninvasive indices of NMC derived from sEMGlic and sMMGlic may prove to be useful indices of lower chest wall inspiratory muscle NMC, particularly in settings that do not have access to invasive measures of diaphragm function.
- inspiratory threshold loading
- neuromechanical coupling
- respiratory muscles