Utility of impedance cardiography to determine cardiac vs. noncardiac cause of dyspnea in the emergency department

Congest Heart Fail. 2004 Mar-Apr;10(2 Suppl 2):14-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-5299.2004.03409.x.


Determining the correct diagnosis of patients with dyspnea can be challenging. Early and accurate determination of the cause of dyspnea is vital in instituting timely and appropriate interventions. Hemodynamic parameters may aid in the evaluation of dyspnea, but are difficult to assess by physical exam. Impedance cardiography (ICG) is a newly validated method of determining hemodynamic parameters noninvasively. The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy in differentiating cardiac from noncardiac causes of dyspnea utilizing ICG-derived hemodynamic parameters compared with that of emergency department (ED) physicians after initial history, physical, and laboratory tests. The final diagnosis, which was made retrospectively after review of the patient's hospital record by a senior ED physician blinded to the ICG data, was compared with the treating ED physician's and the ICG diagnoses. Thirty-eight patients who presented with dyspnea to a community ED were included in the study. There were significant differences in values of cardiac index by ICG (2.2 vs. 3.1; p<0.0001), systolic time ratio (0.52 vs. 0.37; p<0.01) and velocity index (32.9 vs. 42.7; p<0.01) between the cardiac and noncardiac groups, respectively. ICG measurements demonstrated greater sensitivity (92 vs. 83%), specificity (88 vs. 77%), and positive and negative predictive values (79 vs. 63% and 96 vs. 91%, respectively) compared with the ED physician in distinguishing cardiac from noncardiac cause of dyspnea. ICG can aid ED physicians in making more rapid and accurate determinations of cardiac vs. noncardiac cause of dyspnea.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiography, Impedance*
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis*
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity