Point-of-Care Echocardiography and Hemodynamic Monitoring in Cirrhosis and Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure in the COVID-19 Era

J Intensive Care Med. 2021 May;36(5):511-523. doi: 10.1177/0885066620988281. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Point-of-Care (POC) transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is transforming the management of patients with cirrhosis presenting with septic shock, acute kidney injury, hepatorenal syndrome and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) by correctly assessing the hemodynamic and volume status at the bedside using combined echocardiography and POC ultrasound (POCUS). When POC TTE is performed by the hepatologist or intensivist in the intensive care unit (ICU), and interpreted remotely by a cardiologist, it can rule out cardiovascular conditions that may be contributing to undifferentiated shock, such as diastolic dysfunction, myocardial infarction, myocarditis, regional wall motion abnormalities and pulmonary embolism. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a delay in seeking medical treatment, reduced invasive interventions and deferment in referrals leading to "collateral damage" in critically ill patients with liver disease. Thus, the use of telemedicine in the ICU (Tele-ICU) has integrated cardiology, intensive care, and hepatology practices across the spectrum of ICU, operating room, and transplant healthcare. Telecardiology tools have improved bedside diagnosis when introduced as part of COVID-19 care by remote supervision and interpretation of POCUS and echocardiographic data. In this review, we present the contemporary approach of using POC echocardiography and offer a practical guide for primary care hepatologists and gastroenterologists for cardiac assessment in critically ill patients with cirrhosis and ACLF. Evidenced based use of Tele-ICU can prevent delay in cardiac diagnosis, optimize safe use of expert resources and ensure timely care in the setting of critically ill cirrhosis, ACLF and liver transplantation in the COVID-19 era.

Keywords: ACLF; COVID-19 critical care; Cirrhosis; cirrhotic cardiomyopathy; echocardiography; tele cardiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / etiology
  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / physiopathology
  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / therapy
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Cardiology / trends
  • Critical Care* / methods
  • Critical Care* / organization & administration
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Delayed Diagnosis / prevention & control
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Hemodynamic Monitoring / instrumentation
  • Hemodynamic Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / physiopathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis* / therapy
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Remote Consultation* / instrumentation
  • Remote Consultation* / methods
  • Remote Consultation* / organization & administration
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Shock* / diagnosis
  • Shock* / etiology
  • Shock* / therapy