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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2015 May;59(5):552-60. doi: 10.1111/aas.12490. Epub 2015 Feb 13.

Central venous pressure: we need to bring clinical use into physiological context.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.



The place of central venous pressure (CVP) measurement in acute care has been questioned during the past decade. We reviewed its physiological importance, utility and clinical use among anaesthetists and intensivists.


A literature search using the PubMed, Cochrane, Scopus and Web of Science databases was performed in regard to details of the physiology, measurement and interpretation of CVP. A questionnaire was conducted among members of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine concerning knowledge and uses of CVP.


Aligning pressure transducers to the phlebostatic axis was handled inadequately. The unsuitability of CVP to assess the intravascular volume state was generally recognised by clinicians. Still, many used CVP to guide volume resuscitation in the absence of a cardiac output monitor, while the literature positioned CVP as a useful haemodynamic variable only in the expanded context of being one determinant of the driving pressure for venous return and hence cardiac output.


The correct measurement of CVP is pivotal to its proper clinical application. This relates to defining the pressure gradient for venous return and heart efficiency. The clinical appreciation of CVP should be restored by educational efforts of its physiological context.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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