Category: Critical Care
Keywords: Right Ventricle, RV Size (PubMed Search)
Rapid Assessment of the RV on Bedside Echo
There are several causes of acute RV dysfunction resulting in a patient presenting to the ER with unstable hemodynamics. Some of these include acute cor pulmonale, acute right sided myocardial infarction and acute submassive or massive pulmonary embolism. While bedside assessment of the LV function is often performed by the ED physician, simultaneous evaluation of the RV can provide crucial information that can help guide therapeutic decisions to prevent worsening of the patient’s clinical condition. A rough guideline to determine RV size and function is below using the apical 4 chamber view.
Normal RV size : <2/3 the size of the LV
Mildly enlarged RV : >2/3 the size of the LV, but not equal in size
Moderately enlarged RV: RV size = LV size
Severely enlarged RV: RV size > LV size
Patients who are found to have RV dilation should be given fluids in a judicious fashion as the RV is not tolerant of fluid overload. Early diagnosis of the cause of acute RV failure should be sought to guide definitive therapy, but early institution of inotropic support should be considered. Frequent reassessments of biventricular function during resuscitation should be performed.
Guidelines for the Echocardiographic Assessment of the Right Heart in Adults: A Report from the American Society of Echocardiography Endorsed by the European Association of Echocardiography, a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology, and the Canadian Society of Echocardiography, J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2010;23:685-713