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Venous Doppler to Assess Congestion: A Comprehensive Review of Current Evidence and Nomenclature

      Abstract

      Organ congestion from venous hypertension is an important pathophysiological mechanism mediating organ injury in several clinical contexts including critical illness, congestive heart failure and end-stage chronic kidney disease. However, the practical evaluation of venous congestion is often challenging at the bedside because of the limitations of traditional methods. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) enables the clinician to assess venous velocity profiles during the cardiac cycle using Doppler modalities. Venous Doppler profile abnormalities at multiple sites are detected when elevated venous pressure results in hemodynamic changes within the systemic venous circulation. The detection of these abnormal Doppler profiles may identify patients with clinically significant systemic venous congestion. These patients have been reported to be at increased risk of medical complications. Improving the evaluation of venous congestion may lead to individualized treatment and improved patient outcomes. In this review, we describe the physiologic principles necessary to understand venous Doppler assessment. We also propose a nomenclature for the description of venous Doppler profiles. Finally, we provide a narrative review of the current clinical evidence related to use of venous Doppler assessment in various clinical contexts.

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