The pulmonary artery catheter measures cardiac output via a thermodilution technique through a catheter fed through the superior vena cava, right atrium, right ventricle and pulmonary artery. Although this is an invasive technique, it is considered the gold standard for clinical cardiac output monitoring.
To investigate variability with cardiac output measurements between users, a large sample of cardiologists and intensivists used a pulmonary catheter to estimate cardiac output in our mock circulation loop (MCL). The MCL is fully instrumented with calibrated flow sensors and can simulate multiple modes of heart abnormalities and failures. Each user repeatedly estimated cardiac output for at least four different flow rates. This data was compared with the actual cardiac output measured using the MCL, while user parameters such as grip strength, height, weight and number of previous human PAC procedures completed were also recorded and correlated with the errors in cardiac output estimation.