The Benefits of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation in the Muscular and Functional Capacity of Patients With Liver Cirrhosis: Protocol for a Randomized Clinical Trial


Cirrhosis causes systemic and metabolic changes that culminate in various complications, such as compromised pulmonary function, ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, weight loss, and muscle weakness with significant physical function limitations. Our aim is to evaluate the effects of training with neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on the muscular and functional capacity of patients with cirrhosis classified as Child-Pugh B and C. A total of 72 patients diagnosed with cirrhosis will be recruited and randomized to perform an NMES protocol for 50 minutes, 3 times a week, for 4 weeks. The evaluations will be performed at the beginning and after 12 sessions, and patients will be submitted to a pulmonary function test, an ultrasound evaluation of the rectus femoris, an evaluation of peripheral muscle strength, a submaximal exercise capacity test associated with an evaluation of peripheral tissue oxygenation, a quality of life evaluation, and orientation about monitoring daily physical activities. The evaluators and patients will be blinded to the allocation of the groups. Training Group will be treated with the following parameters: frequency of 50 Hz, pulse width of 400 $μ$s, rise and fall times of 2 s, and on:off 1:1; Sham Group: 5 Hz, 100 $μ$s, on:off 1:3. The data will be analyzed using the principles of the intention to treat. This study provides health professionals with information on the benefits of this intervention. In this way, we believe that the results of this study could stimulate the use of NMES as a way of rehabilitating patients with more severe cirrhosis, with the objective of improving these patients' functional independence.

Clinical Medicine Insights: Gastroenterology