Background: The noninvasive prediction of pulmonary-capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) is important for the recognition and treatment of a variety of cardiovascular disorders. The response of the arterial pressure to the Valsalva maneuver has been shown to correlate with the PCWP. We therefore devised a noninvasive method to measure this pressure response at the bedside and correlated these measurements with the PCWP measured directly with a pulmonary-artery catheter.
Methods: Simultaneous, blinded, noninvasive measurements of the ratio of the final amplitude to the initial amplitude of the pulse wave form during the stress phase of the Valsalva maneuver (pulse-amplitude ratio) and direct measurements of the PCWP were obtained in 20 clinically stable patients and in 14 clinically unstable patients who were receiving vasoactive agents, 12 of whom also had endotracheal tubes in place.
Results: Using linear regression analysis, we found that the pulse-amplitude ratio strongly correlated with the measured PCWP over a range of base-line values from 4 to 32 mm Hg for the 20 clinically stable patients (R2 = 0.80) and the 14 clinically unstable patients (R2 = 0.85). The method also correctly predicted changes in the PCWP after the administration of nitroglycerin or furosemide and after expansion of the intravascular volume (R2 = 0.79).
Conclusions: These preliminary data indicate that a simple noninvasive method can accurately predict the PCWP and changes in the PCWP in response to medical therapy.