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Assessment of the plethysmographic variability index as a predictor of fluid responsiveness in critically ill patients: a pilot study

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Optimising intravascular volume in patients with hypotension requiring vasopressor support is a key challenge of critical care medicine. The optimal haemodynamic parameter to assess fluid responsiveness in critically ill patients, particularly those requiring a noradrenaline infusion and mechanical ventilation, remains uncertain. This pilot study assessed the accuracy of the plethysmographic variability index (PVI), (Radical-7 pulse co-oximeter, Masimo®, Irvine, CA,USA) in predicting fluid responsiveness in 25 patients who required noradrenaline infusion to maintain mean arterial pressure over 65 mmHg and were mechanically ventilated with a ‘lung-protective’ strategy, and whether administering a fluid bolus was associated with a change in PVI (Δ PVI). In this study, fluid responsiveness was defined as an increase in stroke volume of greater than 15% after a 500 ml bolus of colloid infusion over 20 minutes. Of the 25 patients included in the study, only 12 (48%) were considered fluid responders. As static haemodynamic parameters, PVI, central venous pressure and inferior vena cava distensibility index were all inaccurate at predicting volume responsiveness with PVI being the least accurate (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve=0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.18 to 0.65). However, fluid responsiveness was associated with a change in PVI, but not a change in heart rate or central venous pressure. This association between Δ PVI and fluid responsiveness may be a surrogate marker of improved cardiac output following a fluid bolus and warrants further investigation.

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