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Am J Cardiol. 2015 Oct 15;116(8):1224-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2015.07.040. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

Outpatient Use of Focused Cardiac Ultrasound to Assess the Inferior Vena Cava in Patients With Heart Failure.

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Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. Electronic address:


Accurate assessment of volume status is critical in the management of patients with heart failure (HF). We studied the utility of a pocket-sized ultrasound device in an outpatient cardiology clinic as a tool to guide volume assessment. Inferior vena cava (IVC) size and collapsibility were assessed in 95 patients by residents briefly trained in focused cardiac ultrasound (FCU). Cardiologist assessment of volume status and changes in diuretic medication were also recorded. Patients were followed for occurrence of 30-day events. There was a 94% success rate of obtaining IVC size and collapsibility, and agreement between visual and calculated IVC parameters was excellent. Most patients were euvolemic by both FCU IVC and clinical bedside assessment (51%) and had no change in diuretic dose. Thirty-two percent had discrepant FCU IVC and clinical volume assessments. In clinically hypervolemic patients, the FCU evaluation of the IVC suggested that the wrong diuretic management plan might have been made 46% of the time. At 30 days, 14 events occurred. The incidence of events increased significantly with FCU IVC imaging categorization, from 11% to 23% to 36% in patients with normal, intermediate, and plethoric IVCs. By comparison, when grouped in a binary manner, there was no significant difference in event rates for patients who were deemed to be clinically volume overloaded. Assessment of volume status in an outpatient cardiology clinic using FCU imaging of the IVC is feasible in a high percentage of patients. A group of patients were identified with volume status discordant between FCU IVC and routine clinic assessment, suggesting that IVC parameters may provide a valuable supplement to the in-office physical examination.

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