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Non-Invasive Method for the Rapid Assessment of Central Venous Pressure: Description and Validation by a Single Examiner

Author(s): Sankoff, Jeffrey | Zidulka, Arnold

Journal: Western Journal of Emergency Medicine
ISSN 1936-900X

Volume: 9;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 201;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: CVP | physical exam

Objectives: This study describes a means of assessing the external jugular venous pressure (JVP) as an indicator of normal or elevated central venous pressure (CVP).Methods: Intensive care unit patients having CVP monitoring were examined. With patients in bed, the external jugular vein (EJV) was occluded at the base of the neck and observed to distend. The occlusion was then removed and the vein observed for collapse. Complete collapse was hypothesized to indicate a non-elevated CVP (≤8cm of water). In those patients whose EJV collapsed incompletely, the vein was then occluded with the finger near the angle of the jaw. With the occlusion maintained, the vein was milked downwards with the other hand to cause its emptying and was then observed for filling from below. Filling from below was hypothesized to indicate an elevated CVP (>8cm of water).Results: In 12 of the 40 patients examined, the EJV could not be assessed (EJV not seen at all: 5, and difficult to visualize: 7). For the remaining 28 patients, 11 had a CVP > 8 cm, while 17 had a CVP of < 8. EJV assessment was 100% accurate (95% Confidence Interval 88-100) in predicting whether or not a patient’s CVP was greater or less than 8 cm of water.Conclusion: EJV assessment, when visible, is accurate to clinically assess a patient’s CVP in the hands of the author. Further studies are needed to see if they are reproducible by other observer.[WestJEM. 2008;9:201-205.]
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