A recent study found that, in patients undergoing in assisted mechanical ventilation, diaphragm thickening is a reliable indicator of respiratory effort, whereas diaphragm excursion should not be used to quantitatively assess diaphragm contractile activity.

Pressure-support ventilation, is widely used in critically ill patients; however, the relative contribution of patient’s effort during assisted breathing is difficult to measure in clinical conditions. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the performance of ultrasonographic indices of diaphragm contractile activity (respiratory excursion and thickening) in comparison to traditional indices of inspiratory muscle effort during assisted mechanical ventilation.

Consecutive patients admitted to the ICU after major elective surgery who met criteria for a spontaneous breathing trial with pressure support ventilation were enrolled.

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