The relative merits of pulsus paradoxus and right ventricular diastolic collapse in the early detection of cardiac tamponade: an experimental echocardiographic study

H S Klopfenstein, G H Schuchard, L S Wann, T E Palmer, A J Hartz, C M Gross, S Singh, H L Brooks
Circulation 1985, 71 (4): 829-33
An inspiratory decline in systolic arterial blood pressure exceeding 10 mm Hg has been used clinically to identify hemodynamically significant pericardial effusions. Recently, the echocardiographic sign of right ventricular diastolic collapse (RVDC) has been shown to occur early in the course of cardiac tamponade in association with a hemodynamically important decline in cardiac output. This study was undertaken to compare the relative merits of pulsus paradoxus and the onset of RVDC in the early detection of cardiac tamponade in an unanesthetized canine preparation. We studied six chronically instrumented, conscious dogs with two-dimensional echocardiography during cardiac tamponade induced by continuous infusion of saline into the pericardial space. We recorded intrapericardial pressure, cardiac output (electromagnetic flowmeter), aortic (catheter-tip transducer) and right atrial blood pressures, heart rate, and respiration. None of the dogs had RVDC when the pericardial space was empty, but all dogs showed RVDC during cardiac tamponade. We found that RVDC was strongly related to all of the cardiac parameters evaluated (intrapericardial pressure, cardiac output, aortic blood pressure, heart rate, and stroke volume) and provided information on each that was independent of that provided by pulsus paradoxus. Furthermore, RVDC appeared to be more strongly related to most cardiac parameters than was pulsus paradoxus and to be more sensitive and specific than pulsus paradoxus in detecting changes in intrapericardial pressure early in cardiac tamponade.


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