The crashing patient: hemodynamic collapse

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Purpose of review

Rapid restoration of tissue perfusion and oxygenation are the main goals in the resuscitation of a patient with circulatory collapse. This review will focus on providing an evidence based framework of the technological and conceptual advances in the evaluation and management of the patient with cardiovascular collapse.

Recent findings

The initial approach to the patient in cardiovascular collapse continues to be based on the Ventilate–Infuse–Pump rule. Point of care ultrasound is the preferred modality for the initial evaluation of undifferentiated shock, providing information to narrow the differential diagnosis, to assess fluid responsiveness and to evaluate the response to therapy. After the initial phase of resuscitative fluid administration, which focuses on re-establishing a mean arterial pressure to 65 mmHg, the use of dynamic parameters to assess preload responsiveness such as the passive leg raise test, stroke volume variation, pulse pressure variation and collapsibility of the inferior vena cava in mechanically ventilated patients is recommended.


The crashing patient remains a clinical challenge. Using an integrated approach with bedside ultrasound, dynamic parameters for the evaluation of fluid responsiveness and surrogates of evaluation of tissue perfusion have made the assessment of the patient in shock faster, safer and more physiologic.

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