Some surgeons may lack proper experience in abdominal packing. Overpacking may directly compress the inferior vena cava (IVC). This reduces the venous return and possibly causes hypotension. Here, a new on table Point-of-Care Ultrasound application that has been recently used to assess the effect of abdominal packing on the IVC diameter is described. Following abdominal packing, a small print convex array probe with low frequency (2–5 MHz) is used to visualize the IVC. Using the B mode, the IVC can be directly evaluated through a hepatic window between the ribs. The ultrasound beam should be vertical to the IVC longitudinal section at its midpoint. The abdominal towels will be in front of the IVC. This will enable us to judge whether there was overpacking on the IVC.
Our method demonstrates that overpacking does not compress the IVC in a patient whose blood pressure has improved. The IVC diameter progressively increases on table and in the ICU with active resuscitation implying that bleeding stopped and the resuscitation was successful. Furthermore, presence of intra-peritoneal fluid can be excluded.
This new application of ultrasound evaluation of IVC patency after abdominal packing is simple, practical, easily reproducible, and can guide a less experienced surgeon in determining if overpacking of the abdomen is the cause of hypotension. Ultrasound findings should be correlated with the clinical picture to be useful.