Pulmonary Capillary Wedge Pressure

The pulmonary capillary wedge pressure has immense significance in treating heart diseases as it provides an indirect measure of the left atrial pressure and it is also very useful for measuring acute pulmonary edema. It is also very useful when the cardiologists are trying to ascertain the extent of damage to the left ventricle and mitral stenosis. Acute respiratory distress syndrome can also be evaluated with the aid of pulmonary capillary wedge pressure.

The pulmonary capillary wedge pressure is also referred to as PCWP and is measure with a pulmonary artery catheter or swan ganz catheter. In this method a balloon tipped multi lumen catheter is inserted into the heart through the femoral artery in the groin. The swan ganz catheter has various ports that are connected to the pressure  transducers.

Thus by the swan ganz catheter it is possible to measure the right ventricular pressure, right arterial pressure, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure and the left ventricular pressure. These measurements are very useful in ascertain various ailments of the heart like myocardial infractions, respiratory ailments, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary edema and it aids is assessment of the various therapeutic measures. In case of hypertensive shock measuring the pulmonary capillary wedge pressure will help in deciding the amount of fluids that need to be administered in the patient.

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