EXPERIENCE in coronary care units during the past few years has demonstrated the importance of continuous electrocardiographic monitoring and immediate therapy of ventricular arrhythmias. More recently there has been a greater appreciation of the importance of monitoring hemodynamic events in these acutely ill patients. The ability to make such measurements has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of a new generation of balloon-tip flotation catheters.1 The principle of their use is that blood flow will propel the inflated balloon at the tip of the catheter through the right side of the heart and into the pulmonary artery, where it can be deflated subsequently. Such catheters can be passed at the bedside (without fluoroscopy) in a high percentage of cases.
Placement of the catheter tip in the pulmonary artery allows for the direct measurement of pulmonary artery pressure. Furthermore, when the balloon is reinflated transiently to occlude a branch of
Parmley WW. Cardiovascular Monitoring During Acute Myocardial Infarction: New Trends. JAMA. 1974;230(3):454–456. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240030068036
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