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Crit Care. 2008;12(6):R153. doi: 10.1186/cc7142. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

Nurses' prediction of volume status after aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage: a prospective cohort study.

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  • 1Department of Perioperative & Emergency Care, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.



Patients who have suffered aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) often have derangements in blood volume, contributing to poor outcome. To guide fluid management, regular assessments of volume status must be conducted. We studied the ability of nursing staff to predict hypovolaemia or hypervolaemia, based on their interpretation of available haemodynamic data.


In a prospective cohort study, intensive care unit and medium care unit nurses, currently treating patients with recent SAH, were asked to predict present volume status. For their assessment they could use all available haemodynamic parameters (for example, heart rate, blood pressure, fluid balance). The nurses' assessments were compared with the actual circulating blood volume (CBV), as measured daily with pulse dye densitometry during the first 10 days after SAH. Normovolaemia was defined as a CBV of 60 to 80 ml/kg body weight; hypovolaemia as CBV under 60 ml/kg; severe hypovolaemia as CBV under 50 ml/kg and hypervolaemia as CBV above 80 ml/kg.


A total of 350 combinations of volume predictions and CBV measurements were obtained in 43 patients. Prediction of hypovolaemia had a sensitivity of 0.10 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.06 to 0.16) and a positive predictive value of 0.37 (95% CI = 0.23 to 0.53) for actual hypovolaemia. The prediction of hypervolaemia had a sensitivity of 0.06 (95% CI = 0.01 to 0.16) and a positive predictive value of 0.06 (95% CI = 0.02 to 0.19) for actual hypervolaemia. Mean CBV was significantly lower in instances considered hypervolaemic than in instances considered normovolaemic.


Assessment of haemodynamic condition in patients with SAH by intensive care unit or medium care unit nurses does not adequately predict hypovolaemia or hypervolaemia, as measured using pulse dye densitometry. Fluid therapy after SAH may require guidance with more advanced techniques than interpretation of usual haemodynamic parameters.

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