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Publication Date

7-30-2018

Keywords

intensive care unit, echocardiography, cardiogenic shock, cardiac tamponade, pulmonary embolism

Abstract

The intensive care unit (ICU) is among the more important settings in which echocardiography plays a pivotal role. The ease of use, speed of execution, and completeness of information on heart anatomy and function that echocardiography is able to provide makes this tool the perfect diagnostic technique in patients for whom exhaustive information must be quickly obtained by physicians who sometimes lack specific skills in cardiovascular imaging. However, the clinical entities encountered by ICU clinicians are often difficult to distinguish and patient symptoms may not be obvious. This brief review describes three common clinical scenarios that benefit from echocardiography in the ICU, based on symptoms frequently claimed by patients admitted to the ICU. For each symptom we describe the most likely clinical possibilities, underlining the fundamental role that echocardiography plays in the differential diagnosis, and the echocardiographic elements most relevant to obtain the correct diagnosis and to guide treatment.

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