Context: Many physicians believe that the pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) is useful for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiopulmonary disturbances; however, observational studies suggest that its use may be harmful.
Objective: To determine the effects on outcome of the early use of a PAC in patients with shock mainly of septic origin, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or both.
Design, setting, and patients: A multicenter randomized controlled study of 676 patients aged 18 years or older who fulfilled the standard criteria for shock, ARDS, or both conducted in 36 intensive care units in France from January 30, 1999, to June 29, 2001.
Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to either receive a PAC (n = 335) or not (n = 341). The treatment was left to the discretion of each individual physician.
Main outcome measures: The primary end point was mortality at 28 days. The principal secondary end points were day 14 and 90 mortality; day 14 organ system, renal support, and vasoactive agents-free days; hospital, intensive care unit, and mechanical ventilation-free days at day 28.
Results: The 2 groups were similar at baseline. There were no significant differences in mortality with or without the PAC at day 14: 49.9% vs 51.3% (mortality relative risk [RR], 0.97; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84-1.13; P =.70); day 28: 59.4% vs 61.0% (RR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.86-1.10; P =.67); or day 90: 70.7% vs 72.0% (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.89-1.08; P =.71). At day 14, the mean (SD) number of days free of organ system failures with or without the PAC (2.3 [3.6] vs 2.4 [3.5]), renal support (7.4 [6.0] vs 7.5 [5.9]), and vasoactive agents (3.8 [4.8] vs 3.9 [4.9]) did not differ. At day 28, mean (SD) days in hospital with or without the PAC (0.9 [3.6] vs 0.9 [3.3]), in the intensive care unit (3.4 [6.8] vs 3.3 [6.9]), or mechanical ventilation use (5.2 [8.5] vs 5.0 [8.5]) did not differ.
Conclusion: Clinical management involving the early use of a PAC in patients with shock, ARDS, or both did not significantly affect mortality and morbidity.