Focused comprehensive, quantitative, functionally based echocardiographic evaluation in the critical care unit is feasible and impacts care

Mil Med. 2015 Mar;180(3 Suppl):74-9. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00374.


Objectives: To determine whether comprehensive quantitative echocardiogram could be used as a resuscitation tool in critically ill surgical patients and to assess its effect on patient care.

Design: Prospective observational.

Setting: The Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care Units of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Patients: Critically ill trauma and surgical patients.

Interventions: The Focused Rapid Echocardiographic Evaluation (FREE), an abbreviated version of a comprehensive transthoracic echocardiogram, which is under an approved protocol, was performed.

Measurements and main results: Over a 30-month period, 791 FREEs were performed on 659 patients. The mean patient age was 60 (±17) years. Ninety-one percent were intubated and 80% were postoperative. Ejection fraction was reported for 95%, and cardiac index was reported for 89% of FREE studies. Right heart function was assessed for 94%. Measures of volume status--internal left ventricular diameter, inferior vena cava diameter, diameter change, and stroke volume variation--were reported for 88%, 79%, 75%, and 89% of patients, respectively. The FREE was judged to be useful by the consulting primary care team for 95% of patients, and altered the plan of care for 57%. The most common change was administration of a fluid bolus (43%), followed by change from an original prestudy plan to one of monitoring (24%), diuresis (23%), addition/titration of an inotropic agent (19%), and/or addition/titration of a vasoconstrictor (8%).

Conclusions: The FREE is feasible and alters care in the intensive care unit by providing clinical data not otherwise available at the bedside. Further studies are warranted to assess the impact of comprehensive echocardiogram-directed resuscitation on patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Echocardiography, Doppler, Pulsed / methods*
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resuscitation / methods*
  • Ventricular Function / physiology*