Imaging Congestion With a Pocket Ultrasound Device: Prognostic Implications in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure

J Card Fail. 2015 Jul;21(7):548-54. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2015.02.004. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


Background: Venous congestion is common in patients with chronic heart failure (HF). We used a pocket-sized ultrasound imaging device (PID) to assess the patients' congestive status and related our findings to prognosis.

Methods and results: One hundred four consecutive outpatients from an HF outpatient clinic were studied. Interstitial lung water (ILW), pleural effusion (PE), and the diameter of the inferior vena cava (VCI) were assessed with the use of a PID. ILW was assessed by demonstration of B-lines (comet tail artifact (CTA). Out of the 104 patients, 28 had CTA and 8 had PE. Median VCI diameter was 18 mm (interquartile range 14-22 mm). Each of these parameters correlated weakly (r = 0.26-0.37; P < .05) with the HF biomarker N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP). During the median follow-up time of 530 days, 18 hospitalizations and 14 deaths were registered. Findings of CTA, PE, or both increased the risk of death or hospitalization (hazard ratio 3-4; P < .05). After adjustment for age, cardiac systolic function, and NT-proBNP, this difference remained significant for CTA alone and CTA + PE combined, but not for PE alone.

Conclusions: With the use of a handheld ultrasound device, signs of pulmonary congestion could be demonstrated. When found, these had a significant prognostic impact in clinically stable HF.

Keywords: Heart failure; decompensation; handheld device; imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Female
  • Heart Failure* / complications
  • Heart Failure* / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure* / mortality
  • Heart Failure* / physiopathology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion / physiopathology
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Edema / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Edema / physiopathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography* / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonography* / methods
  • Vena Cava, Inferior* / diagnostic imaging