Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 774–790 | Cite as

Diagnostic workup, etiologies and management of acute right ventricle failure

A state-of-the-art paper
  • Antoine Vieillard-BaronEmail author
  • R. Naeije
  • F. Haddad
  • H. J. Bogaard
  • T. M. Bull
  • N. Fletcher
  • T. Lahm
  • S. Magder
  • S. Orde
  • G. Schmidt
  • M. R. Pinsky



This is a state-of-the-art article of the diagnostic process, etiologies and management of acute right ventricular (RV) failure in critically ill patients. It is based on a large review of previously published articles in the field, as well as the expertise of the authors.


The authors propose the ten key points and directions for future research in the field. RV failure (RVF) is frequent in the ICU, magnified by the frequent need for positive pressure ventilation. While no universal definition of RVF is accepted, we propose that RVF may be defined as a state in which the right ventricle is unable to meet the demands for blood flow without excessive use of the Frank–Starling mechanism (i.e. increase in stroke volume associated with increased preload). Both echocardiography and hemodynamic monitoring play a central role in the evaluation of RVF in the ICU. Management of RVF includes treatment of the causes, respiratory optimization and hemodynamic support. The administration of fluids is potentially deleterious and unlikely to lead to improvement in cardiac output in the majority of cases. Vasopressors are needed in the setting of shock to restore the systemic pressure and avoid RV ischemia; inotropic drug or inodilator therapies may also be needed. In the most severe cases, recent mechanical circulatory support devices are proposed to unload the RV and improve organ perfusion


RV function evaluation is key in the critically-ill patients for hemodynamic management, as fluid optimization, vasopressor strategy and respiratory support. RV failure may be diagnosed by the association of different devices and parameters, while echocardiography is crucial.


Right ventricle failure Pulmonary hypertension Critically ill patients Echocardiography Shock 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

AVB has received Grant from GSK for conducting clinical research and is membership of the scientific advisory board. RN has relationship with drug companies including AOPOrphan Pharmaceuticals, Actelion, Reata, Lung Biotechnology Corporation and United Therapeutics. In addition to being investigator in trials involving these companies, relationships include consultancy service, research Grants, and membership of scientific advisory board. FH declares no conflict of interest with regards to the content of this manuscript. HJB declares research Grants from Actelion, GSK, Therabell and speaker fees from Actelion, GSK. TMB declares investigator initiated Grant from Bayer Pharmaceuticals NF declares no conflict of interest. TL declares conflict of interest with Bayer (speaker bureau), Actelion (consulting), Gilled (scientific review committee) and Eli Lilly (research reagents). SM declares no conflict of interest with regards to the content of this manuscript. SO declares no conflict of interest. GS declares no conflict of interest with regards to the content of this manuscript. MRP declares no conflict of interest with regards to the content of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature and ESICM 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoine Vieillard-Baron
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • R. Naeije
    • 3
  • F. Haddad
    • 4
  • H. J. Bogaard
    • 5
  • T. M. Bull
    • 6
  • N. Fletcher
    • 7
  • T. Lahm
    • 8
  • S. Magder
    • 9
  • S. Orde
    • 10
  • G. Schmidt
    • 11
  • M. R. Pinsky
    • 12
  1. 1.Service de Réanimation, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisUniversity Hospital Ambroise ParéBoulogne-BillancourtFrance
  2. 2.INSERM U-1018, CESP, Team 5University of Versailles Saint-Quentin en YvelinesVillejuifFrance
  3. 3.Professor Emeritus at the Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Division of Cardiovascular MedicineStanford Cardiovascular InstituteStanfordUSA
  5. 5.Department of Pulmonary MedicineVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Colorado Anschutz Medical CampusAuroraUSA
  7. 7.Department of Cardiothoracic Critical CareSt Georges University Hospital NHS TrustLondonUK
  8. 8.Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Occupational Medicine, Department of MedicineIndiana University School of Medicine and Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical CenterIndianapolisUSA
  9. 9.Department of Critical CareMcGill University Health CentreMontrealCanada
  10. 10.Intensive Care UnitNepean HospitalSydneyAustralia
  11. 11.Department of Internal Medicine and Critical CareUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  12. 12.Department of Critical Care MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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