Ten good reasons why everybody can and should perform cardiac ultrasound in the ICU

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Cyril Charron, Xavier Repesse, Laurent Bodson, Siu-Ming Au, Antoine Vieillard-Baron


Critical care ultrasonography (CCUS) has been defined as an ultrasound evaluation of the heart, abdomen, pleura and lungs at the bedside by the intensivist, 24/7. Within CCUS, critical care echocardiography (CCE) is used to assess cardiac function and more generally haemodynamics. Experts in haemodynamics have published a ‘consensus of 16’ regarding an update on haemodynamic monitoring. They reported the ten key properties of an ‘ideal’ haemodynamic monitoring system, which perfectly match the ten good reasons we describe here for performing CCE in critically ill patients. Even though unfortunately no evidence-based medicine study is available to support this review, especially regarding CCE-related improvement of outcome, many clinical studies have demonstrated that CCE provides measurements of relevant, accurate, reproducible and interpretable variables, is easy to use, readily available, has a rapid response time, causes no harm, and is cost-effective.

Whether it is operator-independent is obviously more debatable and is discussed in this review. All these characteristics are arguments for the extensive use of CCE by intensivists. This is why experts in the field have recommended that a basic level of CCE should be included in the training of all intensivists.

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