Tag Archives: monitoring

End-Tidal CO2 as a Predictor of Cardiac Arrest Survival

In one of largest studies to date of prehospital capnography in cardiac arrest, an initial EtCO2 >10 mmHg (1.3 kPa) was associated with an almost five-fold higher rate of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). In addition, a decrease in the EtCO2 during resuscitative events of >25% was associated with a significant increase in mortality, independent of other variables known to affect outcome.

The authors conclude: “EtCO2 values should be included as important variables in protocols to terminate or continue resuscitation in the prehospital setting“.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate initial end-tidal CO2 (EtCO2) as a predictor of survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

METHODS: This was a retrospective study of all adult, non-traumatic, out-of-hospital, cardiac arrests during 2006 and 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The primary outcome variable was attaining return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) in the field. All demographic information was reviewed and logistic regression analysis was performed to determine which variables of the cardiac arrest were significantly associated with ROSC.

RESULTS: There were 3,121 cardiac arrests included in the study, of which 1,689 (54.4%) were witnessed, and 516 (16.9%) were primary ventricular fibrillation (VF). The mean initial EtCO2 was 18.7 (95%CI = 18.2-19.3) for all patients. Return of spontaneous circulation was achieved in 695 patients (22.4%) for which the mean initial EtCO2 was 27.6 (95%CI = 26.3-29.0). For patients who failed to achieve ROSC, the mean EtCO2 was 16.0 (95%CI = 15.5-16.5). The following variables were significantly associated with achieving ROSC: witnessed arrest (OR = 1.51; 95%CI = 1.07-2.12); initial EtCO2 >10 (OR = 4.79; 95%CI = 3.10-4.42); and EtCO2 dropping <25% during the resuscitation (OR = 2.82; 95%CI = 2.01-3.97).The combination of male gender, lack of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, unwitnessed collapse, non-vfib arrest, initial EtCO2 ≤10 and EtCO2 falling > 25% was 97% predictive of failure to achieve ROSC.

CONCLUSIONS: An initial EtCO2 >10 and the absence of a falling EtCO2 >25% from baseline were significantly associated with achieving ROSC in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. These additional variables should be incorporated in termination of resuscitation algorithms in the prehospital setting.

End-Tidal CO2 as a Predictor of Survival in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arres
Prehosp Disaster Med. 2011 Jun;26(3):148-50

Passive leg raise predicted fluid responsiveness in kids

Passive leg raising (PLR) is a great ‘free reversible fluid challenge’ to see if a shocked or hypotensive patient is likely to respond to volume therapy. A new study assesses its applicability in children.
PLR predicted fluid responders with 85% specificity but a lack of response did not rule out fluid responsiveness. Also, the effect of the PLR on cardiac index measured by echocardiography was the only way of predicting response – there was no relation to the more easily monitored effects of PLR on systolic blood pressure or heart rate.
Want to learn how to measure cardiac output using ultrasound? Mike Mallin from the Emergency Ultrasound Podcast shows you how here

OBJECTIVE: Fluid challenge is often used to predict fluid responsiveness in critically ill patients. Inappropriate fluid expansion can lead to some unwanted side effects; therefore, we need a noninvasive predictive parameter to assess fluid responsiveness. We want to assess the hemodynamic parameter changes after passive leg raising, which can mimic fluid expansion, to predict fluid responsiveness in pediatric intensive care unit patients and to get a cutoff value of cardiac index in predicting fluid responsiveness in pediatric patients.

DESIGN: Nonrandomized experimental study.

SETTING: Tertiary academic pediatric intensive care.

PATIENTS: Children admitted to pediatric intensive care.

INTERVENTION: Hemodynamic parameters were assessed at baseline, after passive leg raising, at second baseline, and after volume expansion (10 mL/kg normal saline infusion over 15 mins).

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We measured the heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and stroke volume and cardiac index using Doppler echocardiography. The hemodynamic parameter changes induced by passive leg raising were monitored. Among 40 patients included in the study, 20 patients had a cardiac index increase of ≥10% after volume expansion (responders). Changes in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and stroke volume after passive leg raising did not significantly relate to the response to volume expansion. There was significant relation between changes in cardiac index to predict fluid responsiveness (p = .012, r = .22, 95% confidence interval 1.529 to 31.37). A cardiac index increase by ≥10% induced by passive leg raising predicted preload-dependent status with sensitivity of 55% and specificity of 85% (area under the curve 0.71 ± 0.084, 95% confidence interval 0.546-0.874).

CONCLUSION: The concomitant measurements in cardiac index changes after the passive leg raising maneuver can be helpful in predicting who might have an increase in cardiac index with subsequent fluid resuscitation.

The role of passive leg raising to predict fluid responsiveness in pediatric intensive care unit patients.
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. 13(3):e155-e160, May 2012

Non-invasive BP in shock

In the management of the shocked patient, we sometimes get a little fixated on the need for an arterial line. This is in part due to previous studies suggesting non-invasive blood pressure (NIBP) measurements were inaccurate in the critically ill. This appears no longer to be the case with modern oscillometric devices and carefully chosen cuff sizes. This recent study showed mean arterial pressure (MAP) measured non-invasively from the arm closely correlated with invasive measurements. NIBP was effective at identifying hypotension and recording the response to therapy. Although patients with severe occlusive arterial disease were excluded, the study did include a number of shocked patients on vasoactive therapies.
Systolic and diastolic pressures were not accurate. This should not be surprising since, as the authors explain:
“oscillometric devices directly measure the MAP and only extrapolate systolic arterial pressure and diastolic arterial pressure, using proprietary algorithms”
Thia study suggests that NIBP measurement of MAP from the arm is accurate but, if contraindicated, the ankle (or even the thigh in older sedated patients) may be a suitable alternative site permitting a reliable detection of hypotensive and therapy-responding patients.

OBJECTIVE: In the critically ill, blood pressure measurements mostly rely on automated oscillometric devices pending the intra-arterial catheter insertion or after its removal. If the arms are inaccessible, the cuff is placed at the ankle or the thigh, but this common practice has never been assessed. We evaluated the reliability of noninvasive blood pressure readings at these anatomic sites.
DESIGN: Prospective observational study.
SETTING: Medical-surgical intensive care unit.
PATIENTS: Patients carrying an arterial line with no severe occlusive arterial disease.
INTERVENTION: Each patient underwent a set of three pairs of noninvasive and intra-arterial measurements at each site (arm, ankle, thigh [if Ramsay sedation scale >4]) and, in case of circulatory failure, a second set of measurements after a cardiovascular intervention (volume expansion, change in catecholamine dosage).
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: In 150 patients, whatever the cuff site, the agreement between invasive and noninvasive readings was markedly higher for mean arterial pressure than for systolic or diastolic pressure. For mean arterial pressure measurement, arm noninvasive blood pressure was reliable (mean bias of 3.4 ± 5.0 mm Hg, lower/upper limit of agreement of -6.3/13.1 mm Hg) contrary to ankle or thigh noninvasive blood pressure (mean bias of 3.1 ± 7.7 mm Hg and 5.7 ± 6.8 mm Hg and lower/upper limits of agreement of -12.1/18.3 mm Hg and -7.7/19.2 mm Hg, respectively). During acute circulatory failure (n = 83), arm noninvasive blood pressure but also ankle and thigh noninvasive blood pressure allowed a reliable detection of 1) invasive mean arterial pressure 10%) increase in invasive mean arterial pressure after a cardiovascular intervention (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.99 [0.92-1], 0.90 [0.80-0.97], and 0.96 [0.87-0.99], respectively).
CONCLUSION: In our population, arm noninvasive mean arterial pressure readings were accurate. Either the ankle or the thigh may be reliable alternatives, only to detect hypotensive and therapy-responding patients.

Noninvasive monitoring of blood pressure in the critically ill: Reliability according to the cuff site (arm, thigh, or ankle)
Crit Care Med. 2012 Apr;40(4):1207-13

Body temperature in anaesthetised HEMS patients

This study raises an important issue – how do we keep patients with major trauma warm on the way to hospital? The authors from HEMS London identified mean temperatures in hospital of 35°C in patients who had been anaesthetised in the field, although only 38% of their patients had a temperature recorded on admission!
I emailed the author Audun Langhelle for practical information on the thermal protection package they use, who was most helpful in supplying the following information. Clicking on the link will take you to online supplements to the paper describing and illustrating their technique of prehospital rewarming.

Hi Cliff,

Thank you for your request and interest in our paper. Now fully repatriated to Norway, we’re currently using the medium sized UniqueResc warming blanket (Geratherm, Germany) at my base, together with the bubble wrap. In Norway, Garatherm is the only company which has been able to provide us with the necessary paper work showing that their product complies with the rather strict pan European rules and regulations, the EN 13718-1: Requirements for medical devices used in air ambulances in particular.
Working as HEMS doc with LAA 2008-2009, we played with and introduced the policy using Diemme’s (Italy)DM EMG >> http://emj.bmj.com/content/early/2010/10/19/emj.2009.086967/suppl/DC1, but I’m not sure what blanket they currently use.

Kind regards,


We reviewed this article in one of our Sydney HEMS Clinical Governance Days last year. One of our team presented a critical appraisal and if you’re interested the deadly PowerPoint slides are here:

Background Hypothermia at hospital admission has been found to independently predict increased mortality in trauma patients.

Objectives To establish if patients anaesthetised in the prehospital phase of care had a higher rate of hypothermia than non-anaesthetised patients on admission to hospital.

Methods Retrospective review of admission body temperature in 1292 consecutive prehospital trauma patients attended by a physician-led prehospital trauma service admitted to The Royal London Hospital between 1 July 2005 and 31 December 2008.

Results 38% had a temperature recorded on admission. There was a significant difference in body temperature between the anaesthetised group (N=207) and the non-anaesthetised group (N=287): mean (SD) 35.0 (2.1) vs 36.2 (1.0)°C, respectively (p <0.001). No significant seasonal body temperature variation was demonstrated.
Conclusion This study confirmed that patients anaesthetised in the prehospital phase of care had a significantly lower admission body temperature. This has led to a change in the author’s prehospital practice. Anaesthetised patients are now actively surface heated and have whole body insulation to prevent further heat loss in an attempt to conserve body temperature and improve outcome. This is an example of best in-hospital anaesthetic practice being carried out in the prehospital phase.

Body temperature of trauma patients on admission to hospital: a comparison of anaesthetised and non-anaesthetised patients
Emerg Med J. 2012 Mar;29(3):239-42
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PICCs more complicated than CVCs

A review showed that peripherally inserted central catheters were associated with higher rates of complications that standard central venous catheters

We undertook a review of studies comparing complications of centrally or peripherally inserted central venous catheters. Twelve studies were included. Catheter tip malpositioning (9.3% vs 3.4%, p = 0.0007), thrombophlebitis (78 vs 7.5 per 10 000 indwelling days, p = 0.0001) and catheter dysfunction (78 vs 14 per 10 000 indwelling days, p = 0.04) were more common with peripherally inserted catheters than with central catheter placement, respectively. There was no difference in infection rates. We found that the risks of tip malpositioning, thrombophlebitis and catheter dysfunction favour clinical use of centrally placed catheters instead of peripherally inserted central catheters, and that the two catheter types do not differ with respect to catheter- related infection rates.

Complications associated with peripheral or central routes for central venous cannulation
Anaesthesia. 2012 Jan;67(1):65-71

Delta CVP with PEEP and fluid responsiveness

I’ve been (and remain) critical of the use of CVP to determine ‘filling status’ or more accurately volume-responsiveness, even using CVP trends; I’m generally in agreement with Dr Marik’s bold statement that “CVP should not be used to make clinical decisions regarding fluid management”1. However there might now appear to be a way of using CVP for this purpose.
Increasing PEEP in patients undergoing positive pressure ventilation can increase the CVP. It has been demonstrated in a small study of cardiac surgical patients2 that the degree to which a 10cmH2O increase in PEEP changes the CVP correlates with fluid responsiveness. The fluid responsiveness was determined by the change in cardiac output measured by thermodilution after a passive leg raise.
There are a number of limitations to this study that should prevent us from immediately extrapolating this method of determining fluid responsiveness to our ED / critical care patients, but the concept is interesting. This can be added to the growing pile of dynamic measures of circulatory filling.

Background Changes in central venous pressure (CVP) rather than absolute values may be used to guide fluid therapy in critically ill patients undergoing mechanical ventilation. We conducted a study comparing the changes in the CVP produced by an increase in PEEP and stroke volume variation (SVV) as indicators of fluid responsiveness. Fluid responsiveness was assessed by the changes in cardiac output (CO) produced by passive leg raising (PLR).

Methods In 20 fully mechanically ventilated patients after cardiac surgery, PEEP was increased +10 cm H2O for 5 min followed by PLR. CVP, SVV, and thermodilution CO were measured before, during, and directly after the PEEP challenge and 30° PLR. The CO increase >7% upon PLR was used to define responders.

Results Twenty patients were included; of whom, 10 responded to PLR. The increase in CO by PLR directly related (r=0.77, P<0.001) to the increase in CVP by PEEP. PLR responsiveness was predicted by the PEEP-induced increase in CVP [area under receiver-operating characteristic (AUROC) curve 0.99, P<0.001] and by baseline SVV (AUROC 0.90, P=0.003). The AUROC's for dCVP and SVV did not differ significantly (P=0.299).
Conclusions Our data in mechanically ventilated, cardiac surgery patients suggest that the newly defined parameter, PEEP-induced CVP changes, like SVV, appears to be a good parameter to predict fluid responsiveness.

1. Does central venous pressure predict fluid responsiveness? A systematic review of the literature and the tale of seven mares.
Chest. 2008 Jul;134(1):172-8
Full Text Link
2. Predicting cardiac output responses to passive leg raising by a PEEP-induced increase in central venous pressure, in cardiac surgery patients.
Br J Anaesth. 2011 Aug;107(2):251-7

Capillary refill time

A review of capillary refill time (CRT) reveals some interesting details about this test:

  • CRT is affected by age – the upper limit of normal for neonates is 3 seconds.
  • It increases with age – one study recommended the upper limit of normal for adult women should be increased to 2.9 seconds and for the elderly to 4.5 seconds.
  • It is affected by multiple external factors (especially ambient temperature).
  • Although it is claimed to have some predictive value in the assessment of dehydration and serious infection in children, studies vary in where and for how long pressure should be applied, and there is poor interobserver reliability.

The latest (5th Edition) of the Advanced Paediatric Life Support Manual states:
Poor capillary refill and differential pulse volumes are neither sensitive nor specific indicators of shock in infants and children, but are useful clinical signs when used in conjunction with the other signs described
In my view, it is best used as a monitor of trends (in accordance with skin temperature and other markers of perfusion), rather than by placing emphasis on the exact number of seconds of a single reading. See below for a video of my perfectly happy and healthy son demonstrating a CRT of over six seconds in a cool room during an English Summer’s day.
The authors of the review caution:
Operating rooms are cold, patients are often draped, which limits access, and because most anesthetics are potent vasodilators, the use of CRT to guide practice is not justified. The possibility of a false-positive or false-negative assessment is simply too great.

Capillary refill time (CRT) is widely used by health care workers as part of the rapid, structured cardiopulmonary assessment of critically ill patients. Measurement involves the visual inspection of blood returning to distal capillaries after they have been emptied by pressure. It is hypothesized that CRT is a simple measure of alterations in peripheral perfusion. Evidence for the use of CRT in anesthesia is lacking and further research is required, but understanding may be gained from evidence in other fields. In this report, we examine this evidence and factors affecting CRT measurement. Novel approaches to the assessment of CRT are under investigation. In the future, CRT measurement may be achieved using new technologies such as digital videography or modified oxygen saturation probes; these new methods would remove the limitations associated with clinical CRT measurement and may even be able to provide an automated CRT measurement.

Capillary Refill Time: Is It Still a Useful Clinical Sign?
Anesth Analg. 2011 Jul;113(1):120-3
The Capillary Refill Video

Trauma mortality and systolic BP

Here’s some further evidence that a ‘lowish’ – as opposed to a low – systolic blood pressure is a reason to be vigilant in trauma. In this study, it was BP measurement in the ED (rather than pre-hospital) that was assessed:

Introduction: Non-invasive systolic blood pressure (SBP) measurement is often used in triaging trauma patients. Traditionally, SBP < 90 mmHg has represented the threshold for hypotension, but recent studies have suggested redefining hypotension as SBP < 110 mmHg. This study aims to examine the association of SBP with mortality in blunt trauma patients.
Methods: This is an analysis of prospectively recorded data from adult (≥16 years) blunt trauma patients. Included patients presented to hospitals belonging to the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) between 2000 and 2009. The primary outcome was the association of SBP and mortality rates at 30 days. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to adjust for the influence of age, gender, Injury Severity Score (ISS) and Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) on mortality.

Results: 47,927 eligible patients presented to TARN hospitals during the study period. Sample demographics were: median age: 51.1 years (IQR=32.8–67.4); male 60% (n=28,694); median ISS 9 (IQR = 8–10); median GCS 15 (IQR = 15–15); and median SBP 135 mmHg (IQR = 120–152). We identified SBP < 110 mmHg as a cut off for hypotension, where a significant increase in mortality was observed. Mor- tality rates doubled at <100 mmHg, tripled at <90 mmHg and were 5- to 6-fold at <70 mmHg, irrespective of age.
Conclusion: We recommend triaging adult blunt trauma patients with a SBP < 110 mmHg to resuscitation areas within dedicated trauma units for close monitoring and appropriate management.

Systolic blood pressure below 110mmHg is associated with increased mortality in blunt major trauma patients: Multicentre cohort study
Resuscitation. 2011 Sep;82(9):1202-7

Ultrasound-Guided Radial Artery Catheterization

In case you needed some evidence – a systematic review supports ultrasound guidance as a means of improving insertion success of radial artery catheters

BACKGROUND: Ultrasound guidance commonly is used for the placement of central venous catheters (CVCs). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends the use of ultrasound for CVC placement as one of its 11 practices to improve patient care. Despite increased access to portable ultrasound machines and comfort with ultrasound-guided CVC access, fewer clinicians are familiar with ultrasound-guided techniques of arterial catheterization. The goal of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the utility of real-time two-dimensional ultrasound guidance for radial artery catheterization.

METHODS: A comprehensive literature search of Medline, Excerpta Medica Database, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials by two independent reviewers identified prospective, randomized controlled trials comparing ultrasound guidance with traditional palpation techniques of radial artery catheterization. Data were extracted on study design, study size, operator and patient characteristics, and the rate of first-attempt success. A meta-analysis was constructed to analyze the data.

RESULTS: Four trials with a total of 311 subjects were included in the review, with 152 subjects included in the palpation group and 159 in the ultrasound-guided group. Compared with the palpation method, ultrasound guidance for arterial catheterization was associated with a 71% improvement in the likelihood of first-attempt success (relative risk, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.25-2.32).

CONCLUSIONS: The use of real-time two-dimensional ultrasound guidance for radial artery catheterization improved first-pass success rate.

Ultrasound-Guided Catheterization of the Radial Artery
Chest. 2011 Mar;139(3):524-9

Normal heart and respiratory rates in children

A large review has established normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years of age. Some of the results differed markedly from some existing ranges quoted, such as in the Advanced Paediatric Life Support Course.

BACKGROUND: Although heart rate and respiratory rate in children are measured routinely in acute settings, current reference ranges are not based on evidence. We aimed to derive new centile charts for these vital signs and to compare these centiles with existing international ranges.

METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and reference lists for studies that reported heart rate or respiratory rate of healthy children between birth and 18 years of age. We used non-parametric kernel regression to create centile charts for heart rate and respiratory rate in relation to age. We compared existing reference ranges with those derived from our centile charts.

FINDINGS: We identified 69 studies with heart rate data for 143,346 children and respiratory rate data for 3881 children. Our centile charts show decline in respiratory rate from birth to early adolescence, with the steepest fall apparent in infants under 2 years of age; decreasing from a median of 44 breaths per min at birth to 26 breaths per min at 2 years. Heart rate shows a small peak at age 1 month. Median heart rate increases from 127 beats per min at birth to a maximum of 145 beats per min at about 1 month, before decreasing to 113 beats per min by 2 years of age. Comparison of our centile charts with existing published reference ranges for heart rate and respiratory rate show striking disagreement, with limits from published ranges frequently exceeding the 99th and 1st centiles, or crossing the median.

INTERPRETATION: Our evidence-based centile charts for children from birth to 18 years should help clinicians to update clinical and resuscitation guidelines.

Normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years of age: a systematic review of observational studies
Lancet. 2011 Mar 19;377(9770):1011-8