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How to calculate pulmonary vascular resistance without even touching a catheter ?

Posted Dec 27 2010 1:19pm

Calculating the pulmonary vascular  resistance (PVR)  has been a  big head ache for all those involved in pediatric and (for many )in adult cardiology as well  . The complex formulas , the delicate  oximeter samples, the catheters, a sick child , an arrhythmia prone right ventricle , restless staff  nurses , and  finally the mathematics  !  all make it a dreaded exercise .

Echo is a great physiological tool  . . . It is now been used  over 50 years . It is our earnest belief ,   Doppler can measure the flow and pressure any where within the heart   however dynamic  the chambers may be !

Then ,why can’t  we have a simple formula  by  this  non invasive method  to calculate PVR  ?

Yes ,  Dr Abbas et all  from the desert hospital  of Arizona  raised  this question and  reported a new equation to calculate PVR.

Their  hypothesis is as simple as this . . .

  • Pressure     =    Resistance X Flow
  • Resistance = Pressure /Flow

Pulmonary vascular resistance = PA Pressure/PA FLOW

Substitute PA pressure with TR jet

Substitute PA flow by   RVOT VTI (  Velocity time integral )

And  we  get

This  is the simplest way to arrive at PVR at the bedside .

An example

Is it validated ?

Yes .

Then,why it is not being followed widely ?

It is  a  too  simple  method to  use   !  That  is  the biggest excuse ! We are tuned  to  think  ,  a  complex parameter can not be measured in a  simple manner  .  Any thing simple must be  wrong !

But the reality is  . . .

Cath calculations are   much more  complex with so many variables   which  can  get terribly wrong .

The irony  about this  hypothetical  science of PVR is ,  we do not know  which is  gold the standard ?   In fact , none can be  a standard .  So ,  to label PVR  derived by echo ,  as an   inferior modality  can not be accepted  .It is all the more funny ,  as  we are  trying to  define a new  formula    with  the help of   flawed and battered   parameter  namely  the cath derived PVR .

Final message

Abbas’s  formula  is  indeed a  realistic way of arriving at PVR by echocardiogram. If only we measure it routinely  /serially in as many patients as we can , a new data base  will  be created .Which can later be  proven as a fact.It is suggested every cath lab should try to validate this formula.

Link to full text article : Courtesy of JACC


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