Background: Right ventricle (RV) preload assessment remains controversial because the complexity of RV geometry is an obstacle to wall stress modeling. We developed a method to evaluate end-diastolic RV elastic energy (EL), a variable that integrates all the stretching effects of venous return and that can be easily estimated at the bedside from the area under the diastolic RV pressure-volume curve. The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical utility of EL and of the two conventional variables used to assess RV filling, ie, right atrial pressure (Pra) and RV end-diastolic volume (EDV).
Method: We studied 26 postoperative patients who required a rapid fluid challenge. Energetics were evaluated by constructing the RV pressure-volume loop at the bedside using right heart catheterization with RV ejection fraction (EF) derivation. Correlations between RV filling and RV performance (ejection and mechanical efficiency) were studied. RV filling indexes were Pra, EDV, and EL. Indexes of RV ejection were stroke volume (SV), RV stroke work (RVSW), mechanical energy expenditure during ejection (EM), and total energy expenditure of contraction (ET). Indexes of RV mechanical efficiency were EF and the EM/ET ratio.
Results: Three important results were obtained. First, among RV ejection indexes, those that correlated best with RV filling indexes were EM and ET. Second, we found significant linear relationships between improved RV filling, as assessed by changes in EDV and EL, and improved RV ejection, as assessed by changes in SV, RVSW, EM, or ET. Third, changes in EDV and EL also predicted improved mechanical efficiency, as assessed by changes in EF and EM/ET. In all situations, changes in EL yielded the strongest correlations.
Conclusions: Derivation of EL is simple and appears to be the best clinical means of assessing Starling's law of the heart for the RV.