Key messages

• Cardiac output can be measured by invasive and non-invasive techniques.

• Non-invasive techniques should be viewed as complementary to, rather than competitive with, invasive methods.

• Additional information is often provided on circulatory status (e.g. filling, contractility, extravascular lung water).

• Reliability and accuracy vary. This may depend as much on the device as on the technique itself. The operator must be aware of the pitfalls and shortcomings of both the technique and the device being utilized, and of specific problems which may arise in individual patients with certain conditions.

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