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Venous congestion in septic shock quantified with point-of-care ultrasound: a pilot prospective multicentre cohort study.

PURPOSE: Venous congestion is a pathophysiologic state that can result in organ dysfunction, particularly acute kidney injury (AKI). We sought to evaluate the feasibility of performing a definitive observational study to determine the impact of venous congestion quantified using point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in patients with septic shock.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational feasibility study at two intensive care units (ICUs). We recruited adult patients with septic shock within 12 hr of ICU admission. Using the validated Venous Excess Ultrasound Score (VEXUS), we quantified venous congestion on day 1 and day 3 of ICU admission. The primary feasibility outcome was successful completion rate of the two VEXUS scores. We performed a survival analysis to quantify the hazard of renal replacement therapy (RRT).

RESULTS: We enrolled 75 patients from January 2022 to January 2023. The success rate of completion for VEXUS scans was 94.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 89.5 to 97.6). Severe venous congestion was present in 19% (14/75) of patients on ICU admission day 1 and in 16% (10/61) of patients on day 3. Venous congestion on ICU admission may be associated with a higher risk of requiring RRT (unadjusted hazard ratio, 3.35; 95% CI, 0.94 to 11.88; P = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS: It is feasible to conduct a definitive observational study exploring the association between venous congestion quantified with POCUS and clinical outcomes in patients with septic shock. We hypothesize that venous congestion may be associated with an increased hazard of receiving RRT.

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