Editorials

Pulmonary artery catheters

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39017.459907.BE (Published 02 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:930

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Simon Finfer, associate professor and senior staff specialist in intensive care (sfinfer@george.org.au),
  2. Anthony Delaney, senior lecturer and staff specialist in intensive care
  1. Royal North Shore Hospital and Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia
  2. Royal North Shore Hospital and Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

    As currently used, do not benefit patients

    The description of the flow directed pulmonary artery catheter in 1970 and its subsequent commercial development allowed clinicians to measure cardiac output and derive central haemodynamic parameters at the bedside.1 On the assumption that measuring and manipulating these variables would improve outcomes, this device became widely used in intensive care units. Very soon reports of serious complications including potentially fatal pulmonary artery rupture appeared,2 and arguments for and against its use have continued ever since. A recent addition to the debate is a comprehensive evaluation of both the clinical and cost effectiveness of such catheters in adult intensive care units in the United Kingdom.3 The research was commissioned by the UK's National Health Service Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme; the authors were from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, practising intensive care clinicians, and academics. Given 35 years of research and debate, clinicians might reasonably ask what is known about the usefulness of pulmonary artery catheters, what does this report add, is further …

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