School of Nursing and Midwifery
Background: In Western Australia (WA), most stable patients undergoing haemodialysis receive treatment in a satellite setting where no doctors are on-site during treatment hours, so nurses must make critical decisions about fluid removal. Some patients regularly experience adverse events during dialysis (intradialytic), often due to excessive ultrafiltration goals, with intradialytic hypotension being particularly challenging. Ultrasound of the inferior vena cava has been previously demonstrated being a rapid and non-invasive method for volume assessment on haemodialysis patients, thus could hold valuable information for the treating nurse.
Aim: This paper examines the existing literature in regards to the use of ultrasound measurements of the inferior vena cava in patients on haemodialysis for objective assessment of their intravascular volume status by renal nurses.
Method: A systematic literature review was performed within medical and nursing databases including CINAHL Plus with Full Text, SCOPUS, Web of Science and MEDLINE.
Results: Renal nurses are conscious of the significance of intradialytic hypotension and have only limited options for its prevention. Ultrasound of the inferior vena cava could add another objective dimension for intravascular volume assessment and prevention of intradialytic hypotension, but to date renal nurses have not been using this technique.
Conclusions: Ultrasound of the inferior vena cava has the potential to assist in defining the ultrafiltration goal for that particular dialysis session, thus reducing the risk of intradialytic hypotension. Additionally, it has potential to change current renal nursing practice when added to clinical nursing assessment methods. Further studies are required to validate this assessment tool carried out by a renal nurse compared with a skilled ultrasonographer.