H&R2019 Lecture Series: GI POCUS with Kylie Baker, #FOAMed, #FOAMus.

Now here is a treat. This is one I am rewatching and taking notes, because it fills some holes in my game. No doubt, my GI POCUS is basic, but now Kylie has me starting to look at layers and patterns.

Anyone in ICU needs to be able to assess the abdomen this way.

So here you go!





…and for more,

can be found here:


Venous Congestion from different Clinical Standpoints. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus


So last week sometime we had an interesting twitter exchange which made me realize it is important to explain how some of us are using venous POCUS in different clinical scenarios, which is key, because the development of monosynaptic clinical reflexes with POCUS findings is a rabbit hole we should try not to go down. Instead, POCUS should be about asking the right question and taking that answer as a piece of the pathophysiologic puzzle facing us, which may mean intervening sometimes, and sometimes not, for the same given finding, but with different surroundings.

Here is the twitter exchange.

Thanks to those involved in that discussion – it is how we grow!

And here are some thoughts:

For those not up to speed on venous congestion POCUS I put up the chapter that Korbin Haycock, Rory Spiegel and I worked on in this earlier post.

Here are Korbin’s thoughts on this:

I’m very glad Dr. Eduardo Argaiz pointed this case out, as it brings up considerations apropos both chronic venous congestive cases as well as management of acute illness, particularly in sepsis, where we would expect patients to most likely be fluid responsive, but fluid tolerance is largely overlooked with current management strategies by the majority of clinicians.

Phil’s above audio commentary points out the difference is these two broad categories very nicely. If you didn’t listen to it–you should.

With respect to chronic venous congestive conditions, the knowledge and application of Doppler assessment to therapy will hopefully be the next advance in management at large. Already, I think there is more than adequate research available to show the value of Doppler POCUS (D’POCUS, D/POCUS, or DPOCUS?) in managing these patients. It’s only a matter of clinicians willing to commit to learning and integrate this technology into their skill set.

With respect to resuscitation of the acutely ill patient, there is by far less data, and we are probably into the realm of N=1 here, in terms of how to manage these patients. But, I personally believe–and I understand this is my opinion–that current trends in resuscitation (especially sepsis resuscitation), largely ignores the effect of over volume resuscitation and the potential downstream damage inflicted on our patients.

This theoretical damage of over aggressive fluid resuscitation is multifactorial, including glycocalyx shedding issues/endothelial dysfunction, positive fluid balance and EVLW causing increased mortality (which there is ample evidence for, I think), venous congestion leading to perfusion injuries to encapsulated organs, such as the kidney (AKI) and brain (congestive encephalopathy), and end organ edema leading to the perpetuation of a malignant inflammatory syndrome (portal HTN and gut edema).

In the case called out by Dr. Argaiz, (which can be reviewed by the previous post on this website) my patient had an IVC that whilst not plethoric, was not an IVC that one would expect to find in a patient with a typical distributive shock pattern (i.e. increased cardiac output, decreased SVR, and decreased RAP). Firstly, the complicating factor of atrial fibrillation with RVR was central to the patient’s shock state, however this was quickly addressed with rate control. However, in addition, this particular patient did exhibit additional signs of venous congestion. The portal vein was pulsatile and the intrarenal Doppler pattern was interrupted/bi-phasic in nature. Granted, a pulsatile PV Doppler could be interpreted as related to the hyper dynamic nature of septic shock (as the esteemed Dr. Denault correctly cautioned in his comments on the original post), however a less than flat IVC and the intrarenal findings gave weight to a venous congestive hypothesis as a cause the PV findings as well as a possible cause for his AKI evident on his initial labs.

With this particular case, given my personal global POCUS/FOCUS assessment of his increased LAP (high E/e’), RV dysfunction, RAP, PV, and intrarenal Doppler venous pattern, AND that fact that the RRI was insanely high with an AKI, I elected to treat my hypothetical construct of his renosarca with furosamide and his RRI with vasopressin (as the NE infusion did increase his MAP, BUT NOT decrease his RRI–which the vasopressin infusion did decrease, or so I presume as no other therapeutic interventions were given with respect to the time frame the RRI decreased).

In the end his kidneys had recovered by the next morning, which I’m sure that any intensivist will admit is the opposite of the norm, as the kidneys usually get, at least transiently worse initially-being the delicate sissies/whimps that they are. Whether this was because of the diuretic or the vasopressin, or something else, is debatable for sure, but it sure didn’t get better by 30 cc/kg of crystalloid mandated by CMS, because he got not a drop more than what was needed to push the diltiazem, the lasix, the antibiotics, and the vasopressors.

So to summarize, in the case of chronic cardiogenic venous congestion, clinician realization and adoption of Doppler assessment of this entity will likely be the next leap in improvement in the management of these patients. In the case of acute resuscitation, venous congestion may be a bit more nuanced, and a more comprehensive evaluation is in order in a case by case fashion. However, I think recognition of the issues of over aggressive volume administration will probably be the next frontier in sepsis resuscitation.


Love to hear your thoughts!




Another interesting question from @JCHCheung! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So here’s another interesting question as a follow up to the previous discussions:

Most people would probably agree that florid congestive signs on POCUS means the RV is unable to pass any more extra volume to the left heart; whilst the absence of those signs mean that the patient may be able to cope with some additional volume without immediately engorging the vital organs.

And my question is: what about those in between? i.e. the patients who start to develop some mild congestive features on POCUS.

For those who are on the verge of congestion, diuresis would push the RV to the left (i.e. steep part) of Starling curve resulting in significant CO drop; conversely, extra volume pushes the RV to the right (i.e. flat part) leading to congestion or even D-shape LV, directly hindering CO as well. This margin becomes even smaller in patients whose RV starts to fail (i.e. entire Starling curve shifted downwards)

Great, great question. The crux of this, I think, is deciding which is the greater issue, congestion or poor perfusion. Obviously they are intertwined, so the decision will be on a case by case basis. Jonathan alludes here to a narrow “balance point” between congestion and preload dependancy. My feeling – and we’ll see if we can get some consensus – is that this indeed narrow in patients with marked pulmonary hypertension. When patients have pure pump failure congestion, my clinical experience is that you can decongest plenty without drop in systemic CO, in fact it often improves, likely related to ventricular interdependance. So let’s go on…

I’ll illustrate my point with the following scenario:

for previously healthy middle aged patients intubated and admitted to the ICU for ARDS from severe pneumonia, they quite often develop some acute cor pulmonale after mechanically ventilated for several days even if the PEEP/driving pressure isn’t exceptionally high; and they usually have resp failure and shock to start with.

Given that they don’t have pre-existing heart disease, the only signs suggesting the emergence of cor pulmonale could be subtle, without structural changes like dilated RV (RVEDD at most at upper normal range) nor abnormal septal movements. You may see TAPSE dropping to marginal level and portal vein PW signal may become a bit more pulsatile. IVC looks full and RVSP usually rises but not skyrocket. The MV inflow pattern & E/E’ suggest rather normal LA filling pressure, not surprising from a previously healthy heart.

In this case, it isn’t the LV diastolic dysfunction that overly afterloads the RV; and it isn’t the RV dilation that impairs the (D-shape) LV from ventricular interdependence. Therefore I’d consider the right heart circulation & left heart circulation running purely in series, whereby limiting the RV preload could reduce the LV CO.

Now, if this patient goes into shock, would you consider fluid challenge or diuretics? Everyone probably would also get other therapies on board, e.g pressor, inotrope, source control etc. But when the patient’s BP is 80/40mmHg, I am more prone to giving some fluid as I believe that reducing preload in a septic patient can precipitate arrest; and that RV only directly impairs LV CO once the IVS starts to shift, which should take more time and thereby easier to monitor.

Interesting case that happens commonly – if you do POCUS and look for it rather than blind-ish management. Here, you have congestion, likely due to pulmonary disease, fluids, on a normal-ish RV (which also means it is unable to mount a huge PAP).

So personally – and will full disclosure that this is not evidence-based (as if there was any evidence in our resuscitative practices!), I would consider this a relative contraindication to fluids, given the non-volume-tolerant state (ALI/pneumonia/ARDS and portal pulsatility) of the patient. With pulsatility and signs of organ dysfunction I would be diuresing or pulling fluid off. We’ll see if we can get Rory to comment, as he has been doing a fair bit of this.

So in this patient it would be either no fluids, or diurese.

I don’t think one should have a general conception that reducing preload in a septic patient category is an issue. That may be so if you do not have the capability to look, and hence feel you should behave more cautiously. A septic patient with a tiny IVC may indeed be tipped over into low CO by removing fluids, but another with a full tank post resuscitation may benefit. So with the ability to assess hemodynamics, individualized approaches trump general ides and protocols. Much more to come on this in the next weeks as we break down a lot of interesting concepts in regards to vascular tone assessment and cardiac efficiency. 

I fully appreciate how ambiguous this situation is and that in reality the only way to find out the treatment that works is often by trial and error. Serial assessment by POCUS is definitely needed and one may even put the entire fluid thing aside and focus on other treatments. But just want to know your take and the reasons behind.

Thanks again for all your work and these thought provoking posts; and my apologies for the supposedly quick question ending up being not so quick. It took me some effort to clearly delineate my question in mind.

Anyone interested in these topics should keep an eye out for the H&R2019 Tracks. A bunch of us are getting together before and during the conference and will be recording discussions on all these little cases and angles around hemodynamics and other fun resuscitationist topics.






The Hospitalist POCUS Course Participant Info.


So here is a little intro for those taking part in the course, or for those considering, though I don’t think there are many spots left.


The Hospitalist POCUS Course

Participants should receive course e-notes in the week prior, if you do not, please email hospresusconference@gmail.com to let the team know.

If you are thinking of registering the link is here.

cheers and see you there!



POCUS & Venous Congestion: a #FOAMed Collaborative Chapter.


So given the importance of these topics, the number of questions and discussions we’ve had on the twitterverse, and most importantly in the spirit of #FOAMed, here is the chapter from the POCUS book which was co-authored by Rory Spiegel (@EMnerd), Korbin Haycock (@korbinhaycockmd) and myself.

Venous Congestion Chapter

We’re also in there introducing our VEXUS score, and if anyone wants to use/validate it clinically, please do!

Love to hear anyone’s thoughts!


PS we’ll all be at H&R2019 and running workshops on venous congestion:


The rest of the chapters are here on Amazon and the e-version here on iTunes!





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 https://emcrit.org/emnerd/em-nerd-the-case-of-the-deceitful-lantern/ and our discussion at https://thinkingcriticalcare.com/2019/02/19/the-andromeda-shock-study-a-physiological-breakdown-with-rory-spiegel-emnerd-foamed-foamcc-foamer/



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!




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 http://www.heart-lung.org.






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?



#POCUS IVC Pitfall Twitter Poll & Discussion. #FOAMed, #FOAMer, #FOAMcc

So I ran a couple of twitter polls sets the other day. Here is the first:

(if you want the twitter videos see here)



and part 2:

And to sum it up:

So I just wanted to illustrate something I keep bringing up, essentially that the entire IVC literature based on the AP diameter measurement is physiologically and mathematically flawed. I think the poll and images above clearly support this: given a short axis view, clinicians clearly have a different opinion (and possibly intervention!) than using only a long axis view.

My take, as I’ve said and will keep saying, is that there is a lot of info in IVC POCUS, and the one I am LEAST concerned with is volume responsiveness, which sadly seems to be everyone’s only focus nowadays when it comes to the IVC.

But here’s some food for thought, some of my clinical applications in 5 seconds of scanning:

initial shock patient: big fixed IVC -> no fluids, hurry and find the downstream problem and correct!

resp failure patient: small IVC -> it’s not a massive PE, keep looking for the cause don’t send for a STAT CT angio!

AKI patient: big IVC look at venous doppler and call for lasix, stop the fluids and albumin that were being mistakenly given!

AKI or shock patient & small IVC: sure , start with some fluids and reassess soon (that means hours not the next day)


etc..etc.. there’s more, and “fluid responsiveness” is only in extremes and fairly low on the list for me!






ps if you like physiology, and a physiologico-clinical approach, don’t miss H&R2019!

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!