Passive leg raising test in patients with intra-abdominal hypertension: do not throw it
Letter to the editor on Hemodynamic Monitoring in Critically Ill Patients

Passive leg raising test in patients with intra-abdominal hypertension: do not throw it

Alexandra Beurton1,2, Jean-Louis Teboul3,4, Xavier Monnet3,4

1Department of Critical Care Medicine, Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, Sorbonne University, Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France; 2Inserm UMR S_1158, Sorbonne University, Paris, France; 3Department of Critical Care Medicine, Bicêtre Hospital, Paris-Saclay University, Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France; 4Inserm UMR S_999, Paris-Saclay University, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France

Correspondence to: Alexandra Beurton, MD, PhD. Service de pneumologie médecine intensive réanimation, Hôpital de la Pitié Salpêtrière, 47-83 Bd de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cedex 13, France. Email:

Provenance and Peer Review: This article was commissioned by the Guest Editors (Glenn Hernández and Guo-wei Tu) for the series “Hemodynamic Monitoring in Critically Ill Patients” published in Annals of Translational Medicine. The article was reviewed by the Guest Editor Dr. Guo-wei Tu.

Response to: Minini A, Abraham P, Malbrain MLNG. Predicting fluid responsiveness with the passive leg raising test: don’t be fooled by intraabdominal hypertension! Ann Transl Med 2020;8:799.

Submitted Mar 11, 2020. Accepted for publication Mar 29, 2020.

doi: 10.21037/atm.2020.03.220

We thank Minini, Abraham and Malbrain for their constructive editorial commentary about our recent publication “Intra-Abdominal Hypertension Is Responsible for False Negatives to the Passive Leg Raising Test” (1).

In this study, while the infusion of a fluid bolus led to a similar increase in cardiac index in patients with and without intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH), the increase in cardiac index induced by a passive leg raising (PLR) test was 60% less in patients with IAH than in patients without. This logically induced some false negatives to the PLR test for detecting preload responsiveness (1).

For explaining the reduced effect of PLR on cardiac preload and cardiac index in patients with IAH, we made two hypotheses. The first is a potential reduction of the blood volume contained in the large splanchnic venous reservoir due to the increase in its extramural pressure. As this splanchnic blood likely represents a large part of the venous blood transferred to the cardiac cavities (2), this explains the reduction of the PLR-induced increase in cardiac preload. The second hypothesis is an increase of the transmural pressure of the inferior vena cava, which might increase the resistance to venous return and reduce the transfer of blood to the cardiac chambers (3). As a third hypothesis, Minini et al. suggest that the capillary leak provoked by IAH could reduce the volume of blood being autotransfused during PLR. However, the 1-min PLR test is likely too short for allowing a capillary leakage of significant volume, as suggested by the delay over which it occurred in the animal study describing this IAH-induced capillary leak (4).

We agree with Minini and colleagues, that these are only hypotheses, and that other investigations estimations of the venous return determinants are actually needed to confirm them.

As pointed out by Minini et al., an interesting finding of our study was that, during the PLR test, intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) significantly decreased in patients with IAH by 29%±11%. This might be due to the cephalic displacement of the diaphragm during PLR, increasing the abdominal compliance. Also, the relief of the weight of the diaphragm on the abdominal cavity might contribute to the decrease of IAP during the PLR test. Minini et al. also suspected that the IAP was subject to errors in measurements in our study, due to the change in height of the pressure sensor. This cannot be excluded, since there is no reference for measuring IAP. Nevertheless, we carefully paid attention to our method of measurement for ensuring that the position of the pressure sensor remained stable.

What are the practical consequences of our study? First, one should remind that the reliability of the PLR test has been demonstrated in many studies. With pulse pressure variation, it is the most reliable way of assessing fluid responsiveness, with a much higher number of conditions of validity (5). We agree with Minini et al. that the IAP should be checked in patients in whom it is suspected to be elevated. By contrast, we do not agree with the recommendation to check the presence of high positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and auto-PEEP, as there is no clear reason why they may affect the PLR test reliability. Moreover, many of the studies demonstrating the PLR reliability included patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome receiving PEEP. We also disagree with their recommendation to consider a lower threshold of cardiac output changes to define the test positivity. In our study, the statistical analysis could not identify any threshold providing acceptable sensitivity and specificity in patients with IAH (1).


Funding: None.


Conflicts of Interest: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form (available at The series “Hemodynamic Monitoring in Critically Ill Patients” was commissioned by the editorial office without any funding or sponsorship. XM and JLT are members of the Medical Advisory board (Pulsion Medical Systems). AB has no other conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Statement: The authors are accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Open Access Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See:


  1. Beurton A, Teboul JL, Girotto V, et al. Intra-Abdominal Hypertension Is Responsible for False Negatives to the Passive Leg Raising Test. Crit Care Med 2019;47:e639-47. [Crossref] [PubMed]
  2. Jabot J, Teboul JL, Richard C, et al. Passive leg raising for predicting fluid responsiveness: importance of the postural change. Intensive Care Med 2009;35:85-90. [Crossref] [PubMed]
  3. Takata M, Wise RA, Robotham JL. Effects of abdominal pressure on venous return: abdominal vascular zone conditions. J Appl Physiol (1985) 1990;69:1961-72. [Crossref] [PubMed]
  4. Elvevoll B, Husby P, Øvrebø K, et al. Acute elevation of intra-abdominal pressure contributes to extravascular shift of fluid and proteins in an experimental porcine model. BMC Res Notes 2014;7:738. [Crossref] [PubMed]
  5. Monnet X, Teboul JL. Assessment of fluid responsiveness: recent advances. Curr Opin Crit Care 2018;24:190-5. [Crossref] [PubMed]
Cite this article as: Beurton A, Teboul JL, Monnet X. Passive leg raising test in patients with intra-abdominal hypertension: do not throw it. Ann Transl Med 2020;8(12):806. doi: 10.21037/atm.2020.03.220