Optimizing oxygen delivery in the critically ill: Assessment of volume responsiveness in the septic patient

Benjamin De Witt, Raj Joshi, Harvey Meislin, Jarrod M. Mosier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background Assessing volume responsiveness, defined as an increase in cardiac index after infusion of fluids, is important when caring for critically ill patients in septic shock, as both under- and over-resuscitation can worsen outcomes. This review article describes the currently available methods of assessing volume responsiveness for critically ill patients in the emergency department, with a focus on patients in septic shock. Objective The single-pump model of the circulation utilizing cardiac-filling pressures is reviewed in detail. Additionally, the dual-pump model evaluating cardiopulmonary interactions both invasively and noninvasively will be described. Discussion Cardiac filling pressures (central venous pressure and pulmonary artery occlusion pressure) have poor performance characteristics when used to predict volume responsiveness. Cardiopulmonary interaction assessments (inferior vena cava distensibility/collapsibility, systolic pressure variation, pulse pressure variation, stroke volume variation, and aortic flow velocities) have superior test characteristics when measured either invasively or noninvasively. Conclusion Cardiac filling pressures may be misleading if used to determine volume responsiveness. Assessment of cardiopulmonary interactions has superior performance characteristics, and should be preferentially used for septic shock patients in the emergency department.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-615
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • critical care
  • critically ill
  • septic shock
  • volume assessment
  • volume responsiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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