In the last decade, ultrasound has found its place in the intensive care unit (ICU). Initially, ultrasound was used primarily to increase the safety and efficacy of line insertion, but currently many intensivists use point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) to aid in making the diagnosis, monitoring therapy, and supporting therapeutic interventions. In this series, we aim to highlight one specific POCUS technique at a time, which we believe will prove to be useful in your clinical practice. This specific article will focus on assessment of right ventricular (RV) size and function, and the application of tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE). RV assessment during focused cardiac ultrasound (FoCUS) depends, currently, on visual evaluation – ‘eyeballing’ – of the RV size and function and left and right ventricular interaction. However, ‘eyeballing’ is subjective, depends on experience and may be misleading if done by unexperienced sonographers. Objective measurements of RV size and function are necessary and provide an additional understanding of RV performance. There are different ways to assess the RV objectively. Many of these measurements, however, require a lot of training and are not yet available in portable devices. Evaluation of TAPSE is a validated and reproducible way of evaluating RV function and only requires the utilisation of M-mode or a 2D measurement. TAPSE, assessed in the apical four-chamber view, is sometimes difficult to measure, especially in mechanically ventilated patients. In recent years subcostal variants have been introduced: the subcostal echocardiographic assessment of tricuspid annular kick (SEATAK) and the subcostal-TAPSE (S-TAPSE). These measurements are alternatives when the ‘classical’ TAPSE cannot reliably be evaluated.
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