Right ventricular failure in the ICU: A practical approach

J. A. Hermens*, D. W. Donker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Right ventricular (RV) failure is an often undertreated entity due to its multifactorial and complex pathophysiology. In contrast to the muscular high-pressure generating left ventricle, the thinwalled crescend-shaped RV optimizes venous return and enables continuous ejection of blood into a low-resistance, highly compliant pulmonary vascular system. RV dysfunction leads to impaired RV filling with increased right atrial pressures and venous congestion. Additionally, progressive RV overload will cause leftward shifting of the intraventricular septum with reduced LV filling, low cardiac output and multi organ failure. Besides treatment of major potentially reversible precipitants, supportive treatment remains the cornerstone in the management of RV failure and comprises 1. optimizing RV preload and cardiac output and 2) reducing RV afterload. This review presents a comprehensive approach of patients with RV failure in the ICU.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalNetherlands journal of critical care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Afterload
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Right ventricular failure
  • Vasoconstrictor agents


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