Skip to main content

01.12.2014 | Review | Ausgabe 6/2014 Open Access

Critical Care 6/2014

A practical approach to goal-directed echocardiography in the critical care setting

Critical Care > Ausgabe 6/2014
Patricia E Walley, Keith R Walley, Ben Goodgame, Vivek Punjabi, Demetrios Sirounis
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13054-014-0681-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

KRW, BG, VP, and DS declare that they no competing interests. PEW has worked for and was paid as an instructor by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and by CAE Healthcare in the past 5 years.


Urgent cardiac ultrasound examination in the critical care setting is clinically useful. Application of goal-directed echocardiography in this setting is quite distinct from typical exploratory diagnostic comprehensive echocardiography, because the urgent critical care setting mandates a goal-directed approach. Goal-directed echocardiography most frequently aims to rapidly identify and differentiate the cause(s) of hemodynamic instability and/or the cause(s) of acute respiratory failure. Accordingly, this paper highlights 1) indications, 2) an easily memorized differential diagnostic framework for goal-directed echocardiography, 3) clinical questions that must be asked and answered, 4) practical issues to allow optimal image capture, 5) primary echocardiographic views, 6) key issues addressed in each view, and 7) interpretation of findings within the differential diagnostic framework. The most frequent indications for goal-directed echocardiography include 1) the spectrum of hemodynamic instability, shock, and pulseless electrical activity arrest and 2) acute respiratory failure. The differential diagnostic categories for hemodynamic instability can be remembered using the mnemonic ‘SHOCK’ (for Septic, Hypovolemic, Obstructive, Cardiogenic, and (K) combinations/other kinds of shock). RESP-F (for exacerbation of chronic Respiratory disease, pulmonary Embolism, ST changes associated with cardiac or pericardial disease, Pneumonia, and heart Failure) can be used for acute respiratory failure. The goals of goal-directed echocardiography in the unstable patient are: assessing global ventricular systolic function, identifying marked right ventricular and left ventricular enlargement, assessing intravascular volume, and the presence of a pericardial effusion. In an urgent or emergent setting, it is recommended to go directly to the best view, which is frequently the subcostal or apical view. The five views are the subcostal four-chamber view, subcostal inferior vena cava view, parasternal long axis view, parasternal short axis view, and the apical four chamber view. Always interpret goal-directed echocardiographic findings in the context of clinically available hemodynamic information. When goal-directed echocardiography is insufficient or when additional abnormalities are appreciated, order a comprehensive echocardiogram. Goal-directed echocardiography and comprehensive echocardiography are not to be used in conflict with each other.
Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 6/2014

Critical Care 6/2014 Zur Ausgabe

Neu im Fachgebiet AINS

Mail Icon II Newsletter

Bestellen Sie unseren kostenlosen Newsletter Update AINS und bleiben Sie gut informiert – ganz bequem per eMail.