Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS) Evaluation

What is DPS?

The Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS) is a medical device that has the potential to provide part-time or full-time respiratory support to persons who are unable to breathe on their own and use a mechanical ventilator.

Mechanical ventilation is associated with functional limitations, such as decreased mobility and difficulty speaking, as well as inherent complications, including infection, tracheal injury and equipment malfunction.

DPS requires implantation of electrodes, via laparoscopic surgery, to stimulate the phrenic nerve – the motor innervation to the diaphragm, which is responsible for the act of breathing.

The diaphragm pacing device is a unit – about the size of a large remote control – that is worn externally by the patient and connected to wires that exit the chest. The implanted electrodes act as a pacing device, causing the diaphragm to contract, just as it would in people with normal connections between the brain and muscles.

The hope is that this implantable system can provide part-time or full-time respiratory support to persons who normally need a mechanical ventilator.

The Spanish-translated version of this web page is available as a PDF download here.

Benefits to the Patient

  • Improved speech, mobility and more normal breathing
  • Increased olfactory sensation
  • Greater social interaction
  • Expanded participation in rehabilitation activities
  • Improved occupational opportunities

Who is eligible for a DPS?

  • Recipients must be at least 18 years or older and be committed to DPS treatment.
  • People who have a cervical spinal cord injury and are dependent on mechanical ventilation
  • Patients who are clinically stable following an acute spinal cord injury
  • Patients who have a committed primary caregiver (The caregiver will be required to devote several hours during the day operating the system.)
  • The patient (or a designated representative) and the patient's caregiver will be required to sign a “Patient and Caregiver Agreement“ form.
  • Female patients (of child-bearing age) must have a negative pregnancy test.

You are NOT eligible for DPS if...

  • You have any medical conditions that would interfere with the surgery.
  • You have active lung disease, heart disease or brain disease.
  • You require supplemental oxygen use.
  • You have been hospitalized for or treated for an active infection within the past three months.
  • You have a significant chest deformity or scoliosis.
  • You are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You are significantly overweight.
  • There is cause to anticipate poor compliance with the treatment plan by the patient or caregiver.
  • Your physician has a reason why you would not be eligible.

More Information

For more information about the Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS), contact Shelley Mitchell at 404-367-1253 or email her at shelley_mitchell@shepherd.org.

Read more about DPS in this Shepherd Center news story.

Learn more about Synapse, the company that makes the DPS.