Heart catheters show ‘no benefit’ to patients

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By  Published  December 1, 2006

Australian clinicians have called for pulmonary artery catheters to be withdrawn from use, after data showed they offer no benefits to patients. The statement, published in the British Medical Journal, refers to two studies that explored the effectiveness of the device. The most recent evaluation, commissioned by the UK-based NHS Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, found that pulmonary artery catheters do not benefit patients and concluded that withdrawing them from UK intensive care units would be cost effective. Another recent trial in patients with acute lung injury confirmed these findings, while an analysis of 13 trials reported no overall effect of using these devices on mortality or length of hospital stay. Given that the use of pulmonary artery catheters increases the risk of important complications, continued use of these devices is difficult to defend, say the authors. The onus is now on the proponents of the pulmonary artery catheter and related devices to limit their use to clinical trials and to show that protocols based on such devices do benefit patients, they conclude.

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