Cardiac output—pulse contour analysis vs. pulmonary artery thermodilution

M Ostergaard, J Nielsen, J P Rasmussen, P G Berthelsen
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 2006, 50 (9): 1044-9

BACKGROUND: The aims of this study were to determine the agreement between pulmonary artery thermodilution (PA-TD), transpulmonary thermodilution (TP-TD) and the pulse contour method, and to test the ability of the pulse contour method to track changes in cardiac output.

METHODS: Cardiac output was determined twice before cardiac surgery with both PA-TD and TP-TD. The precision (two standard deviations of the difference between repeated measurements) and agreement of the two methods were calculated. Post-operatively, cardiac output was determined with the PA-TD and pulse contour methods, and the bias and limits of agreement were again calculated. Finally, in patients with heart rates below 60 beats/min or a cardiac index of less than 2.5 l/min/m2, atrial pacing was started and the haemodynamic consequences were monitored with the PA-TD and pulse contour methods.

RESULTS: Twenty-five patients were included. The precisions of PA-TD and TP-TD were 0.41 l/min [95% confidence interval (CI), +/- 0.07] and 0.48 l/min (95% CI, +/- 0.08), respectively. The bias and limits of agreement between PA-TD and TP-TD were - 0.46 l/min (95% CI, +/- 0.11) and +/- 1.10 l/min (95% CI, +/- 0.19), respectively. Post-operatively, the bias and limits of agreement between the PA-TD and pulse contour methods were 0.07 l/min and +/- 2.20 l/min, respectively. The changes in cardiac output with atrial pacing were in the same direction and of the same magnitude in 15 of the 16 patients.

CONCLUSION: The precision of cardiac output measurements with PA-TD and TP-TD was very similar. The transpulmonary method, however, overestimated the cardiac output by 0.46 l/min. Post-operatively, cardiac output measurements with the PA-TD and pulse contour methods did not agree, but the pulse contour method reliably tracked pacing-induced changes in cardiac output.

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