Critical care ultrasonography in circulatory shock

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The objective was to define the role of ultrasound in the diagnosis and the management of circulatory shock by critical appraisal of the literature.

Recent findings

Assessment of any patient's hemodynamic profile based on clinical examination can be sufficient in several cases, but many times unclarities remain. Arterial catheters and central venous lines are commonly used in critically ill patients for practical reasons, and offer an opportunity for advanced hemodynamic monitoring. Critical care ultrasonography may add to the understanding of the hemodynamic profile at hand. Improvements in ultrasound techniques, for example, smaller devices and improved image quality, may reduce limitations and increase its value as a complementary tool. Critical care ultrasonography has great potential to guide decisions in the management of shock, but operators should be aware of limitations and pitfalls as well. Current evidence comes from cohort studies with heterogeneous design and outcomes.

Summary

Use of ultrasonography for hemodynamic monitoring in critical care expands, probably because of absence of procedure-related adverse events. Easy applicability and the capacity of distinguishing different types of shock add to its increasing role, further supported by consensus statements promoting ultrasound as the preferred tool for diagnostics in circulatory shock.

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