The pulmonary artery catheter is a valuable tool available to the clinician for use in deciphering complex hemodynamic scenarios. Patients in shock, particularly those who are elderly or have premorbid conditions such as heart failure, may have atypical presentations. Additional hemodynamic data may help identify interventions that might seem counterintuitive, such as the use of vasoconstrictors in patients with low cardiac output.
Interpretation of pulmonary artery hemodynamic data is a skill that should not be relegated to the past. This article reviews the use of a pulmonary artery catheter in mixed shock states. A case study is used to demonstrate how pulmonary artery catheter hemodynamic values can guide the care of these patients.