BACKGROUND: Concerns about the utility of pulmonary artery catheters (PAC) stimulated us to assess the impact of one of the parameters measured by the PAC, the pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP), on our clinical practice. METHODS: The PCWP was recorded at 4- to 6-hour intervals on 50 patients for the first 48 hours following aortic aneurysm repair. We then reviewed the patients' records looking for evidence that the PCWP measurements were used to guide therapy. For the purpose of the study, we anticipated the administration of diuretics for PCWP ≤18 mm Hg and volume resuscitation for PCWP ≤8 mm Hg. Data were correlated using Pearson rank correlation coefficient using a P <0.05 to determine statistical significance. RESULTS: Patients with PCWPs <8 mm Hg were more likely to be treated with volume resuscitation (P <0.05). There was no other correlation between PCWP measurements and fluid or pharmacologic management. CONCLUSIONS: Data derived from the PAC are infrequently used to guide therapy in patients who undergo abdominal aortic reconstructive surgery.
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