Purpose of review: To discuss the role of the invasive monitoring techniques pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) and transpulmonary thermodilution (TPD) for cardiopulmonary monitoring in the critically ill patient.
Recent findings: Characterization of the nature of hemodynamic alterations and hemodynamic optimization can be achieved both with PAC and TPD. Some recent trials suggest that volumetric measurements may be preferred in conditions with preserved left ventricular systolic function, whereas pressure measurements should be preferred in patients with altered left ventricular systolic function. Extravascular lung water is strongly associated with outcome and may be used to reflect the impact of fluid management strategies. The time response of this measurement needs still to be better defined.
Summary: This review highlights that PAC and TPD have an important role in cardiopulmonary monitoring of critically ill patients. Both techniques can be used efficiently to diagnose the nature of circulatory or respiratory failure and to monitor the effects of therapies. The choice of the technique should be guided by the patient's condition and the need for additional measurements rather than based on physician's preferences.