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Commentary
Less Is More
June 27, 2011

Pulmonary Artery Catheterization in the Intensive Care UnitJust Numbers Floating By?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(12):1110-1111. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.249

The clinical use of a flow-directed balloon-tipped catheter to measure intracardiac filling pressures was first published by Swan et al1 in 1970. Careful hemodynamic studies using pulmonary artery (PA) catheters provided the basis for our understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of heart failure, which were previously poorly understood. The detailed hemodynamic data obtained with PA catheterization provide important diagnostic information, and PA catheterization remains the procedure of choice for the diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension, shock of unclear etiology, and quantification of intracardiac shunts.2

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