The use of point-of-care ultrasound to guide clinical management in intra-abdominal hypertension


Introduction: The World Society for the Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (WSACS) developed a medical management algorithm with a stepwise approach to keep intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) £15 mmHg. The role of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) as a bedside modality in critical care patients, is not well studied in the intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) management algorithm.

Aim: To test POCUS in the medical management of patients with IAH.

Method: We conducted a prospective observational study. Those who met the inclusion criteria were assigned to undergo POCUS and small bowel ultrasound as adjuvant tools in their IAH management.

Result: A total of 22 patients met the inclusion criteria and were included in the study. The mean age of the study participants was 65±22.6 years, 61% were men, and the most frequent admission diagnoses were hepatic encephalopathy and massive ascites (5 cases). Ultrasound and abdominal X-rays were comparable in confirming nasogastric tube (NGT)’s correct position, but the ultrasound was superior in determining the gastric content (fluid vs solid) and diagnoses of gastric paresis in 2 cases. Small bowel obstruction was present in four patients and confirmed with computerized tomography (CT) abdomen, and 2 of the patients underwent surgical intervention for mesenteric vessel occlusion and transmesenteric internal hernia. Enema treatment was found to empty the bowel incompletely in 72%, 56%, and 42% of the times on days 1, 2, and 3. Four patients with cirrhosis admitted with upper gastrointestinal bleeding and hepatic encephalopathy (out of a total of 8) were found to have large amounts of ascites and ultrasound (US)-guided paracentesis performed.

Conclusion: POCUS can be used in the nonoperative management of IAH. It is an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with IAH.