Maximal Inspiratory Pressure: Does the Choice of Reference Values Actually Matter?

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Abstract

Background

Single-point measurements of maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) are frequently used to suggest muscle weakness in clinical practice. Although there is a large variability in “mean” predicted MIP depending on the chosen reference values, it remains unclear whether those discrepancies actually impact on the prevalence of weakness, that is, MIP below the lower limit of normal.

Methods

A total of 1,729 subjects (50.1% men, aged 20 to 94 years) who underwent MIP measurements in a clinical laboratory comprised the study group. MIP was predicted according to the most frequently cited regression equations as of August 2015. Pretest probability of weakness was defined by a cluster of clinical and physiologic variables.

Results

Prevalence of weakness ranged from 33.4 to 66.9%. Set 2 equations agreed well in indicating weakness (κ [95% CI] ranging from 0.81 [0.79-0.83] to 0.83 [0.81-0.85]; P < .01). There was closer agreement between higher pretest probability of weakness and low MIP according to set 2 equations compared with set 1 equations. Thus, a significant fraction of subjects with abnormal MIP according to set 1 equations but preserved MIP according to set 2 equations had higher pretest probability of weakness (P < .05).

Conclusions

The choice of MIP reference values strongly impacts on the prevalence of weakness. Some specific equations relate better to clinical and physiologic indicators of weakness, suggesting that they might be particularly useful to screen subjects for advanced respiratory neuromuscular assessment.

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