The pulmonary artery catheter: the tool versus treatments based on the tool

Crit Care. 2006;10(4):162. doi: 10.1186/cc5021.


The pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) is a powerful tool that has been used extensively in the assessment and monitoring of cardiovascular physiology. Gross misinterpretation of data gathered by the PAC is common, and its routine use without any specific interventions has not been shown to influence outcome. However, there currently is no evidence from randomized, controlled trials that any diagnostic or monitoring tool used in intensive care patients improves outcome. Studies evaluating the use of the PAC have included numerous potential confounding factors, and should be interpreted with caution. The information obtained with the PAC should be used to find better treatment strategies, and these strategies, instead of the tool itself, should be tested in clinical trials.

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Swan-Ganz*
  • Critical Care*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic