The natural history of cardiac and pulmonary function decline in patients with duchenne muscular dystrophy

Rolando Roberto, Anto Fritz, Yolanda Hagar, Braden Boice, Andrew Skalsky, Hosun Hwang, Laurel Beckett, Craig McDonald, Munish Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN.: Retrospective review of scoliosis progression, pulmonary and cardiac function in a series of patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). OBJECTIVE.: To determine whether operative treatment of scoliosis decreases the rate of pulmonary function loss in patients with DMD. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: It is generally accepted that surgical intervention should be undertaken in DMD scoliosis once curve sizes reach 35° to allow intervention before critical respiratory decline has occurred. There are conflicting reports, however, regarding the effect of scoliosis stabilization on the rate of pulmonary function decline when compared to nonoperative cohorts. METHODS.: We reviewed spinal radiographs, echocardiograms, and spirometry, hospital, and operative records of all patients seen at our tertiary referral center from July 1, 1992 to June 1, 2007. Data were recorded to Microsoft Excel (Microsoft, Redmond, WA) and analyzed with SAS (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) and R statistical processing software ( RESULTS.: The percent predicted forced vital capacity (PPFVC) decreased 5% per year before operation. The mean PPFVC was 54% (SD = 21%) before operation with a mean postoperative PPFVC of 43% (SD = 14%). Surgical treatment was associated with a 12% decline in PPFVC independent of other treatment variables. PPFVC after operation declined at a rate of 1% per year and while this rate was lower, it was not significantly different than the rate of decline present before operation (P = 0.18). Cardiac function as measured by left ventricular fractional shortening declined at a rate of 1% per year with most individuals exhibiting a left ventricular fractional shortening rate of more than 30 before operation. CONCLUSION.: Operative treatment of scoliosis in DMD using the Luque Galveston method was associated with a reduction of forced vital capacity related to operation. The rate of pulmonary function decline after operation was not significantly reduced when compared with the rate of preoperative forced vital capacity decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1009-E1017
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011


  • Duchennes Dystrophy
  • cardiomyopathy
  • neuromuscular scoliosis
  • pulmonary function


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