To determine if the monitor cursor-line feature on bedside monitors is accurate for measuring central venous and pulmonary artery pressures in cardiac surgery patients.


Central venous and pulmonary artery pressures were measured via 3 methods (end-expiratory graphic recording, monitor cursor-line display, and monitor digital display) in a convenience sample of postoperative cardiac surgery patients. Pressures were measured twice during both mechanical ventilation and spontaneous breathing. Analysis of variance was used to determine differences between measurement methods and the percentage of monitor pressures that differed by 4 mm Hg or more from the measurement obtained from the graphic recording. Significance level was set at P less than .05.


Twenty-five patients were studied during mechanical ventilation (50 measurements) and 21 patients during spontaneous breathing (42 measurements). Measurements obtained via the 3 methods did not differ significantly for either type of pressure (P > .05). Graphically recorded pressures and measurements obtained via the monitor cursor-line or digital display methods differed by 4 mm Hg or more in 4% and 6% of measurements, respectively, during mechanical ventilation and 4% and 11%, respectively, during spontaneous breathing.


The monitor cursor-line method for measuring central venous and pulmonary artery pressures may be a reasonable alternative to the end-expiratory graphic recording method in hemodynamically stable, postoperative cardiac surgery patients. Use of the digital display on the bedside monitor may result in larger discrepancies from the graphically recorded pressures than when the cursor-line method is used, particularly in spontaneously breathing patients.

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