Brief training in ultrasound equips novice clinicians to accurately and reliably measure jugular venous pressure in obese patients.

Nicholas Pettit, Providence Portland Medical Center
Benjamin Pedroja, Providence Portland Medical Center – Portland, OR
Hsin-Fang Li, Providence St Vincent Medical Center
Michael G Sutcliffe, Clinical Research Services, Providence Health & Services, Santa Monica, CA, USA


INTRODUCTION/PURPOSE: Measurement of jugular venous pressure (JVP) by novice clinicians can be unreliable, particularly when evaluating obese patients. Measurement of JVP using ultrasound (uJVP) is simple to perform and provides accurate measurements. This study evaluated whether students and residents inexperienced with ultrasound could rapidly be taught to measure JVP using ultrasound in obese patients with the same accuracy as cardiologists measuring JVP via physical examination. Additionally, this study also evaluated the correlation between qualitative and quantitative JVP assessment.

METHODS: This prospective, blinded study compared uJVP measurements performed by novice clinicians after brief training to JVP measurements performed by cardiologists (cJVP) on physical examination. Association between uJVP and cJVP was assessed using linear correlation, agreement and bias were assessed using the Bland-Altman analysis and inter-rater reliability of uJVP was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). The association between qualitative and quantitative JVP assessment was assessed using linear correlation.

RESULTS: Novice clinicians (n = 16) obtained 34 measurements from 26 patients (mean BMI 35.5) and reported moderate-to-high confidence in all measurements. uJVP correlated well with cJVP (r = 0.73) with an average error of 0.06 cm. The estimated uJVP ICC was 0.83 (95% CI = 0.44, 0.96). Qualitative uJVP had only a moderate correlation (r = 0.63) to quantitative uJVP.

DISCUSSION: Novice clinicians often have difficulty assessing JVP on physical examination, particularly in obese patients. Our findings show a high degree of correlation between JVP measurements performed by novice clinicians using ultrasound compared with JVP measurements made by experienced cardiologists on physical examination. Furthermore, novice clinicians were able to be trained quickly, their measurements were determined to be accurate and precise and they expressed moderate-to-high confidence in their results.

CONCLUSIONS: After brief training, novice clinicians were able to accurately assess JVP in obese patients as compared to measurements made by experienced cardiologists on physical examination. Results suggest that ultrasound may greatly improve novice clinicians' JVP assessment accuracy, particularly in obese patients.