Diagnostic accuracy of a simple ultrasound measurement to estimate central venous pressure in spontaneously breathing, critically ill patients

A. Scott Keller, Roman Melamed, Michael Malinchoc, Reverly John, David M. Tierney, Ognjen Gajic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Early goal-directed therapy for severe sepsis or septic shock improves outcomes but requires placement of a central venous catheter to measure central venous pressure (CVP), which may delay timely resuscitation and cause catheterrelated complications. In addition, nonintensivists may not start early aggressive fluid resuscitation because of difficulty estimating CVP and concerns for inadvertent volume overload. OBJECTIVE: To determine if the CVP target of 8 to 12 mm Hg can be accurately assessed using noninvasive ultrasound to measure the internal jugular vein aspect ratio (height/width). DESIGN: Prospective observational study. SETTING: Two academic medical centers. PARTICIPANTS: Nineteen euvolemic volunteers and a convenience sample of 44 spontaneously breathing, critically ill patients. MEASUREMENTS: Ultrasound imaging of internal jugular vein aspect ratio; invasive CVP measurement in critically ill patients. RESULTS: For the volunteers, mean (standard deviation [SD]) aspect ratio of both the right and left internal jugular vein was 0.82 (0.07). Bland-Altman analysis indicated moderate intraobserver and interobserver agreement. Aspect ratio was similar for right and left sides and between men and women. In the critically ill patients, ultrasound accurately estimated a CVP of 8 mm Hg; area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was 0.84. For an invasively measured CVP of <8 mm Hg, the likelihood ratio for a positive ultrasound test (aspect ratio <0.83) was 3.5 and for a negative test (aspect ratio ≥0.83) was 0.30. CONCLUSIONS: In this exploratory study, noninvasive ultrasound imaging of internal jugular vein aspect ratio accurately estimated a CVP of 8 mm Hg in spontaneously breathing, critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-355
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2009



  • Central venous pressure
  • Early goal-directed therapy
  • Internal jugular vein
  • Sensitivity
  • Septic shock
  • Severe sepsis
  • Specificity
  • Ultrasound imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Care Planning
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Leadership and Management

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