Adding point of care ultrasound to assess volume status in heart failure patients in a nurse-led outpatient clinic. A randomised study.

Heart 2016 Jan 5;102(1):29-34. Epub 2015 Oct 5.

Department of Medicine, Levanger Hospital, Nord-Trøndelag Health Trust, Levanger, Norway MI Lab, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Objectives: Medical history, physical examination and laboratory testing are not optimal for the assessment of volume status in heart failure (HF) patients. We aimed to study the clinical influence of focused ultrasound of the pleural cavities and inferior vena cava (IVC) performed by specialised nurses to assess volume status in HF patients at an outpatient clinic.

Methods: HF outpatients were prospectively included and underwent laboratory testing, history recording and clinical examination by two nurses with and without an ultrasound examination of the pleural cavities and IVC using a pocket-size imaging device, in random order. Each nurse worked in a team with a cardiologist. The influence of the different diagnostic tests on diuretic dosing was assessed descriptively and in linear regression analyses.

Results: Sixty-two patients were included and 119 examinations were performed. Mean±SD age was 74±12 years, EF was 34±14%, and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) value was 3761±3072 ng/L. Dosing of diuretics differed between the teams in 31 out of 119 consultations. Weight change and volume status assessed clinically with and without ultrasound predicted dose adjustment of diuretics at follow-up (p<0.05). Change of oedema, NT-proBNP, creatinine, and symptoms did not (p≥0.10). In adjusted analyses, only volume status based on ultrasound predicted dose adjustments of diuretics at first visit and follow-up (all ultrasound p≤0.01, all other p≥0.2).

Conclusions: Ultrasound examinations of the pleural cavities and IVC by nurses may improve diagnostics and patient care in HF patients at an outpatient clinic, but more studies are needed to determine whether these examinations have an impact on clinical outcomes.

Trial Registration Number: NCT01794715.

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