Background: Doxapram is a treatment option for severe apnea of prematurity (AOP). However, the effect of doxapram on the diaphragm, the main respiratory muscle, is not known. Objectives: To investigate the effect of doxapram on diaphragmatic activity measured with transcutaneous electromyography of the diaphragm (dEMG). Methods: A pilot study was conducted in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit. Diaphragmatic activity was measured from 30 min before up to 3 h after the start of doxapram treatment. dEMG parameters were compared to baseline (5 min before doxapram treatment) and at 15, 60, 120 and 180 min after the start of doxapram infusion. Results: Eleven preterm infants were included with a mean gestational age of 25.5 ± 1.2 weeks and birth weight of 831 ± 129 g. The amplitude dEMG , peak dEMG and tonic dEMG values did not change in the 3 h after the start of doxapram infusion compared to baseline. Clinically, the number of apnea episodes in the 24 h after doxapram treatment decreased significantly. Conclusion: Doxapram infusion does not alter diaphragmatic activity measured with transcutaneous dEMG in preterm infants with AOP, indicating that its working mechanism is primarily on respiratory drive and not on respiratory muscle activity.
- Transcutaneous electromyography