Central venous pressure, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure and intrathoracic blood volumes as preload indicators in cardiac surgery patients

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 1998 May;13(5):533-9; discussion 539-40. doi: 10.1016/s1010-7940(98)00063-3.


Objective: Monitoring of cardiac preload is mainly performed by measurement of central venous and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure in combination with assessment of cardiac output, applying the pulmonary arterial thermal dilution technique. However, the filling pressures are negatively influenced by mechanical ventilation and the pulmonary artery catheter is criticized because of its inherent risks. Measurement of right atria, right ventricular, global end diastolic and intrathoracic blood volume index by arterial thermal dye dilution utilizing the COLD-system may represent an alternative.

Methods: In 30 CABG patients with an uncomplicated postoperative course the mentioned parameters were measured 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 h postoperatively to prove their qualification as preload indicators: As patients received no inotropic support, changes of cardiac index and stroke volume index must correlate to changes of presumably preload indicating parameters.

Results: When arterial and pulmonary arterial thermal dilution were compared, no differences were found; the correlation coefficient being 0.96, the bias 0.16 l/min per m2 (2.4%) and coefficients of variation did not exceed 7%. Changes of central venous pressure, capillary wedge pressure, right atrial end diastolic volume index and right ventricular end diastolic volume index did not correlate at all to changes of cardiac and stroke volume index (coefficients ranged from -0.01 to 0.28). In contrast, intrathoracic and global end diastolic blood volume indices with coefficients from 0.76 to 0.87, did show a good correlation to cardiac and stroke volume index.

Conclusion: Central venous pressure, capillary wedge pressure, right atrial and right ventricular end diastolic volumes are no suitable preload parameters in cardiac surgery intensive care, compared to intrathoracic and global end diastolic blood volumes. The latter show a higher clinical value and can be obtained by less invasive methods, as no pulmonary artery catheter is required.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Volume*
  • Cardiac Output
  • Central Venous Pressure*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass*
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure*
  • Stroke Volume
  • Thermodilution
  • Thorax / blood supply*