NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS)

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NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS)®



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What is the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS)®?

What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

What is the diaphragm, and how does it help me breathe?

How is my diaphragm affected by ALS?

Should I wait until I notice my breathing is difficult?

Am I a candidate?


What is the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS)®?

NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS)® is a neurostimulation technology approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who have breathing problems.

The NeuRx DPS® consists of:

  • four electrodes implanted in the diaphragm and a fifth implanted under your skin
  • an electrode connector, which groups the five electrodes exiting your skin into a socket
  • a holder position the electrode connector in place on your skin
  • an external pulse generator (EPG)

The NeuRx® EPG is a stimulator box that sends electrical signals to the diaphragm, replacing the signals normally sent by your brain along your nerves. The signals cause the diaphragm to contract, which exercises and conditions the muscle. The EPG settings are adjusted by your doctor to match your natural and comfortable breathing pattern.

You control the NeuRx DPS® EPG. You can turn it on and off by pressing the two buttons on the front of the EPG. Because the EPG is about the size of a TV remote, it can be easily concealed.


What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that destroys motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons are nerve cells that originate in your brain and exit your spinal cord, linking your central nervous system to muscles throughout your body.

When motor neurons die from ALS, the ability of your brain to start and control muscle movement is lost. Patients in the later stages of ALS may become totally paralyzed. Often, ALS affects the motor neurons connected to the muscles used in breathing.

For more information about ALS, visit the website of the ALS Association.


What is the diaphragm, and how does it help me breathe?

The diaphragm is your body’s most important respiratory muscle. It is a sheet-like structure that separates your abdomen from your chest. When you breathe in, your brain sends a signal along the phrenic nerve to your diaphragm. The signal causes your diaphragm muscle to contract and push down into your abdomen. This creates negative pressure in your lungs, causing air to rush in.


How is my diaphragm affected by ALS?

If you have ALS, the ability of your nerves to signal your muscles, including your diaphragm, decreases over time. Ultimately, ALS weakens your diaphragm. As your diaphragm weakens, you develop a condition called chronic hypoventilation, which means you’re no longer drawing enough oxygen into your lungs.


Should I wait until I notice my breathing is difficult?

No. Waiting too long will result in loss of nerves and muscle response past the point of treatment being an option. Based on published data, muscle weakness from nerve loss will begin and progress before you notice breathing problems and complications.


Am I a candidate?

To determine if the NeuRx DPS® is right for you, you will be given a same-day multidisciplinary evaluation by a thoracic surgeon, pulmonologist, and a neurologist specializing in ALS.

As part of the evaluation, the medical team will determine if your diaphragm will respond to electrical stimulation. Since some patients will not benefit from diaphragm pacing, this evaluation is critical to prevent the unnecessary risks of NeuRx DPS® placement surgery if you are one of those patients. Your phrenic nerve function is tested by a variety of tests including the following:

  • visualizing diaphragm contraction with fluoroscopy (SNIF)
  • radiographic techniques (such as ultrasound)
  • neurophysiological testing (phrenic nerve conduction studies)

Blood tests may also be completed. St. Joseph’s and Barrow physicians will go over your test results with you to make sure you understand what they mean to your treatment.


Contact Us

To learn more about NeuRx DPS®, please call our office at (602) 406-6274 .
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Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000