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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010 Oct 26;56(18):1435-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.05.046.

Medical and surgical treatment of acute right ventricular failure.

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Clarian Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


Acute right ventricular (RV) failure is a frequent and serious clinical challenge in the intensive care unit. It is usually seen as a consequence of left ventricular failure, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, sepsis, acute lung injury or after cardiothoracic surgery. The presence of acute RV failure not only carries substantial morbidity and mortality, but also complicates the use of commonly used treatment strategies in critically ill patients. In contrast to the left ventricle, the RV remains relatively understudied, and investigations of the treatment of isolated RV failure are rare and usually limited to nonrandomized observations. We searched PubMed for papers in the English language by using the search words right ventricle, right ventricular failure, pulmonary hypertension, sepsis, shock, acute lung injury, cardiothoracic surgery, mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, inotropes, and pulmonary vasodilators. These were used in various combinations. We read the abstracts of the relevant titles to confirm their relevance, and the full papers were then extracted. References from extracted papers were checked for any additional relevant papers. This review summarizes the general measures, ventilation strategies, vasoactive substances, and surgical as well as mechanical approaches that are currently used or actively investigated in the treatment of the acutely failing RV.

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