My friend, the IVC. #FOAMed, #FOAMer, #FOAMus, #FOAMcc

So I keep hearing and seeing people bash the IVC. Casually dismissing it with a shrug. “It’s not really good for volume responsiveness, you know…”

All that deserves is an eyeball-rolling emoji. That is, unfortunately, the reaction of docs who are trying to devise a threshold or recipe-based approach to POCUS management (which will be just as bad as any recipe-based medicine) as opposed to physiological understanding of what is going on with the patient.

There’s so much good information packed in scanning the IVC (properly, in both axes – for more, see a bunch of my previous posts), and frankly, volume responsiveness is the least of my concerns, that it is a shame to toss out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

So I talked about this at Stowe EM – an awesome conference run by my friend Peter Weimersheimer (@VTEMsono), which I highly recommend to anyone for next year, great talks, people and spot:

Here are my slides:

IVC Stowe

And the audio:


Love to hear your thoughts!

Oh yes, and anyone looking to explore physiological, evidence-based, cutting- and bleeding-edge approaches to resus, don’t miss H&R2019 this May in Montreal!




Another POCUS HPVG case… Critical…or not? #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So a couple years ago I posted a discussion about HPVG around an interesting case, noting how, although traditionally felt to give a poor prognosis, this was extrapolated from early data when it was being detected by conventional radiographs. This simple fact, due to the relatively low sensitivity of radiographs for air in the portal system, meant that these cases had a lot of air, implying a worse underlying process that that detected by POCUS, which is exquisitely sensitive to the detection of air bubbles.

Had another interesting case today which I tweeted. This is an elderly patient, POD#3 for a subtotal colectomy for an obstruction, in the ICU with severe AKI. When scanning his RUQ for fluid tolerance assessment, here is what I see:

Impressive. Frank bubbles coming up the PV, and the liver parenchyma with extensive HPVG. He had some abdominal pain, but he was not in shock (at least not pressor or lactic acidosis shock). My first reflex, since he was in AKI (non pre-renal and non obstructive, and with new evidence of loss of integrity of the bowel mucosa, was to get the surgeons to go take a look.

We agreed to scan first and take it from there. Their view was that, given the absence of frank shock, they were not keen to go back in. I have to say I would have preferred that they did go take a look straightaway, but, as they pointed out, opening someone up is not entirely without drawbacks.

So the scan was equivocal, with some air noted in the mesenteric vessels and possible in the mucosa of a bowel loop. Clinically he had not deteriorated. In the meantime, we had stopped his early enteral feeds and put his NGT on suction.

So I took another POCUS look, figuring that if things looked worse, I might take another charge at the surgical team:

Lo and behold, things had resolved… Biochemically, not much change either, and hemodynamics still fine.

So clearly, at least today, the decision to not operate was the right one. Kudos to the surgical team. And it was a more risky decision than that to operate, since the consequences of missing something correctable are worse than those of an unnecessary “white” exploratory laparotomy…

So what did happen? In all likelihood, the post-op ileus on an ill bowel resulted in some dilation and “mucosal leak.”  The NG suction likely decompressed the bowel and allowed the circulation to clear the HPVG.

So the lesson for all POCUS users is that we are using a highly sensitive tool for HPVG, such that this finding is certainly more common than commonly thought, and should be concerning but not necessarily ominous or requiring surgical intervention. Certainly close monitoring and repeat assessments, clinical, POCUS and biochemical are important.

The challenge will be discerning the cases that do need intervention, which is not simple, since waiting for shock or hemodynamic instability would represent a late intervention, likely with poorer outcomes – surgery on vasopressors is a bit suboptimal.

Love to hear comments and others’ experience!





The Andromeda-SHOCK trial with Korbin Haycock and the Nuclear Bomb Approach to Sepsis. #FOAMed, #FOAMer, #FOAMcc

So managed to pin another really bright guy down today and get his thoughts. Of course we digress some, but I think in all the topics that are truly important to sepsis resuscitation.



So I think all the resuscitationists I have spoken to tend to hover around the same common points:

  1. lactate is a marker of severity of insult/injury/inflammation but NOT something to specifically treat with an automatic fluid “chaser.”
  2. getting a global assessment of the patient’s perfusion – including things such as CRT is important.
  3. a strategy that seeks to exterminate fluid responsiveness is non-sensical and pathological.

The nice thing for our southern neighbours is that this study may give you a solid excuse to shake off that lactate mandate.

And I think that Korbin’s ending remarks are important, and it is something I try to teach residents, that there is little value in rapidly normalizing hemodynamic values – which treats the medical team very well – if there is an aftermath that is not beneficial for the patient. Kathryn Maitland’s FEAST study is the real groundbreaker for that concept. So probably a coordinated and careful ground assault is better than dropping the nuke.

 For more discussion on this trial check out Rory Spiegel’s breakdown at and our discussion at



a couple points:

First, much thanks to Scott Weingart whose technical pointers are improving my audio quality! Still a ways to go but on the path!

Second, if you’re not registered for H&R2019, there’s only about 20 spots left. And only a handful for the much-anticipated Resuscitative TEE course. Don’t miss out. If you enjoy these discussions, there will be plenty of that, especially in the protected meet-the-faculty times.

And finally, though he doesn’t yet have a blog, you can now follow Korbin on twitter @khaycock2!




The Andromeda-SHOCK study. A physiological breakdown with Rory Spiegel (@EMnerd). #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So recently published was the Andromeda SHOCK trial (jama_hernndez_2019_oi_190001) in JAMA this month.

Definitely interesting stuff, and have to commend the authors on a complex resuscitation strategy that had some real-world flexibility built in in terms of later generalizability and applicability for real-world cases. However there are some fundamentals I have concerns about. Let’s see what Rory thinks:

Yeah. I think the bottom line of opening resuscitationists’ eyes to NOT apply monosynaptic reflexes of giving fluids to elevated lactate is good. In that sense, definitely a step forward.

However, the insistence on maximizing CO under the illusion of optimizing perfusion remains problematic and leads to a congested state unless only a small or perhaps moderate amount of fluid is required to achieve non-volume responsiveness. I think it’s important to realize that the most rapid correction of hemodynamics is a surrogate marker and has not been definitively associated with survival across the board (eg the FEAST study and others), and it’s only proven clinical impact may be on health care workers’ level of anxiety.

Tune in soon for some other smart docs’ take on this!






oh yes and don’t forget The Hospitalist & The Resuscitationist 2019:


Is POCUS the new PAC??? A Chat with Jon-Emile Kenny (@heart_lung) #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So here is what Jon tweeted a couple weeks ago:

Yikes! Does that spell doom for POCUS???

So clearly we had to get to the bottom of this statement…So a google hangout was in order.


Part 1 my intro:

and Part 2 our discussion:


So the bottom line is that we agree that there is a risk that POCUS may partly head the way of the PAC, or at least be challenged in a similar fashion. Hopefully the wiser physicians will see the inherently flawed logic that would push the field in that direction. Alternately, we could all get our minds and efforts together and try to do a triangulation of data to really pinpoint hemodynamics.

Love to hear comments!

For more of Jon’s physiology awesomeness, visit






PS for cutting-edge and bleeding edge discussions, including Jon-Emile and a lot more, don’t miss H&R2019 this may in Montreal…

Volume status, CHAISE study and other silly questions. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So I just finished reading the CHAISE study, which compared Parm as a surrogate for Pmsf as a surrogate for “volume status.”

It is a really cool study for anyone who loves physiology, which I definitely do, and there may be some interesting elements that can be clinically used.

But let’s first set the record straight. I do not believe that “volume status” is a medical and especially not a scientific term. It is a vague reference to intravascular fluid and can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, making it essentially useless. There is such a thing as the status of your flight (on time, delayed, cancelled), your reservation (confirmed, cancelled), your postal delivery (returned, delivered, in-transit), etc.  But there are no such clear strata for “volume status.”

So what are the true scientific terms that can be measured? Blood volume. So if we had a bedside radiolabelled substance test that could give us our true blood volume, that could give us a real measure of “volume status.”

On the other hand, that would be of marginal use clinically, in all likelihood.

Why? Because there are only three questions that the savvy clinician is trying to answer, in order of importance:

1. Does my patient need fluid?

2. Is my patient volume tolerant?

3. Is my patient volume responsive?

The answer to the first question is mysterious, outside of the obvious extremes, and in my opinion, anyone who feels they can clearly answer correctly is deluding themselves.

The answer to the second question is complex and multi-factorial and includes echographic findings (venous congestion/hypertension, B lines, effusions, ascites) as well as physical examination findings (tight abdomen, edema) and clinical findings (respiratory failure, intracranial pathology) and more. But this is a critical one, because if the answer is no, then you need some really compelling evidence to even consider trying to answer the third question.

The answer to the third question is, outside of the extremes, a bit of a quagmire of assessments and technology with generally poor evidence, particularly in terms of duration of effect. The most fearsome aspect of this third question is that it is usually the first question asked instead of the last, and thus has the side effect of creating volume-responsiveness terminators who, 500cc shot after 500cc shot end up satisfied that they have blasted responsiveness into oblivion.

But that’s probably bad news for the patient, that they have now pushed into venous congestion or salt-water drowning. Unless, of course, they just look for volume-responsiveness in the same way that bird-watchers do, for the sake of scientific satisfaction, and do no more than look, or maybe snap a picture at most.

So sure, echocardiographic parameters for volume status should be under fire, as all other parameters should. The authors in this paper themselves state two critical assumptions in the Parm/msf logic:

(1) that the fluid stay intravascular in the 10 minutes (ok, I’ll buy that)


(2) that the compliance is linear (nope, I don’t buy that, especially not in sick patients on vasopressors – as opposed to the normal cardiopulmonary and hemodynamic patients this study was done on).

Essentially, what should be under fire is the obsession with a measurable variable to assess intravascular volume. Too many factors in play, and the answer is useless clinically anyway.

On the other hand, this study is fascinating in terms of what might be done using dynamic Parm… Maybe individualizing pressor response, unstressed volume recruit-ability?  I’ll let @iceman_ex tell us about that at H&R2019!

So what is important is stop points. And reverse points. And yes, these can be looked at using POCUS, and also CVP, and CVP tracings. And yes, there is good data that venous hypertension is a bad state. And this is what you should be looking at, to make sure you have not pushed your patient into a universally pathological state of non-volume-responsiveness.



So Kylie (@kyliebaker888) had some comments and questions:

Hi Philippe, I just had to read the article after your blog. Most is a bit above my head (yeah right Kylie)– but I am perplexed by three things that I did understand -perhaps you can help me with….
1. Is P(arm) a useful measure? – it went up in 19 patients and down in 8 patients after a 500ml bolus yet they claim it went up (after statistical repeated measures or something)..if P(arm) is confounded by something else – I think they suggest sympathetic tone – shouldn’t we sort that before we start using P(arm) as a reference test.

I don’t think we can consider it to be a reference at all. I think it is an interesting physiological measure and that it might have some application in phenotyping vascular tone/compliance and possibly helping in vasopressor fine tuning. In my opinion for fluids it adds little to what we have.

2. What do you think of their IVC measure – 0.5cm below junction with RA?

As I do for all IVC diameter measures, I think it is inherently mathematically flawed to try to assess a volume using a diameter. Eyeball the whole IVC. A recent study finally looked at this. 3D IVC assessment and (of course) found it better.

3. What do you think of the fact that E changed, but e prime and E/e prime didn’t….That seems like there may not be enough precision in some of those measurements.

I agree.

I also have another savvy-clinician question to add to yours
Q4: Is my patient leaking?



Discussing “ARDS” (and of course fluid management and #POCUS) with @iceman_ex! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So sparked by some recent twitter discussions where we were talking about ARDS in a somewhat controversial fashion, I thought it may be worth expanding a bit on the topic.

Essentially my stand is that ARDS is largely an iatrogenic disease mediated by (1) overeager fluid resuscitation of various disease states that fundamentally do not require large amounts of fluids despite commonly held beliefs (sepsis, pancreatitis, etc…) and (2) the absence of frequently used “stop points” of fluid resuscitation with instead a misguided focus on detecting (and intervening upon) volume responsiveness.

In our ICU, true “ARDS” (eg not generated by salt water drowning) is a rarity. Maybe one or two a year, usually a massive primary pulmonary insult.

Anyhow, here, Segun and I discuss this:


Ognjen Gajic refers to this article in our discussion.


So it seems clear that there is much to discuss. We didn’t even really get into the juice of the stop points. Stay tuned!


oh yes… so if these controversial, cutting- and bleeding-edge topics, don’t neglect joining us at H&R2019. Segun and many others will be there!