Passive Leg Raise


  • Passive Leg Raise (PLR) transiently increases venous return in patients who are preload responsive, as such it is a diagnostic test not a treatment
  • it is a predictor of Fluid responsiveness (i.e. helps identify patients who are on the ascending portion of their Starling Curve, and will have an increase in stroke volume in response to fluid administration)


  • sit patient at 45 degrees head up semi-recumbent position
  • lower patient’s upper body to horizontal and passively raise legs at 45 degrees up
  • maximal effect occurs at 30-90 seconds
  • assess for a 10% increase in stroke volume (cardiac output monitor) or using a surrogate such as pulse pressure (using an arterial line)


  • 9% increase in stroke volume has 86% sensitivity and 90% specificity
  • 10% increase in pulse pressure has 79% sensitivity and 85% specificity
  • A small yet-to-be-validated study found that a PLR-induced increase in EtCO(2) ≥ 5 % predicted a fluid-induced increase in CI ≥ 15 % with 71% sensitivity (95 %CI = 48-89 %) and 100% specificity (95%CI = 82-100%)



  • reversible
  • non-invasive
  • easy to perform in patients breathing spontaneously and with arrhythmias (but must use measures other than stroke volume variation and pulse pressure variation)
  • can be repeated many times to reassess preload responsiveness without any risk of inducing pulmonary edema or cor pulmonale in potential nonresponders


  • unreliable in severely hypovolemic patients
    — the blood volume mobilized by leg-raising (which is dependent on total blood volume) could be small and can show minimal to no increase in CO and blood pressure, even in fluid responsive patients
  • need to stop any other interventions during the test
  • positional changes may be contra-indicated in some patients
  • not useful in patients with raised intra-abdominal pressure

References and Links


Journal articles

  • Monnet X, Bataille A, Magalhaes E, Barrois J, Le Corre M, Gosset C, Guerin L, Richard C, Teboul JL. End-tidal carbon dioxide is better than arterial pressure for predicting volume responsiveness by the passive leg raising test. Intensive Care Med. 2013 Jan;39(1):93-100. PMID: 22990869.
  • Monnet X, Bleibtreu A, Ferré A, Dres M, Gharbi R, Richard C, Teboul JL. Passive leg-raising and end-expiratory occlusion tests perform better than pulse pressure variation in patients with low respiratory system compliance. Crit Care Med. 2012 Jan;40(1):152-7. PMID: 21926581.
  • Monnet X, Rienzo M, Osman D, Anguel N, Richard C, Pinsky MR, Teboul JL. Passive leg raising predicts fluid responsiveness in the critically ill. Crit Care Med. 2006 May;34(5):1402-7. PMID: 16540963.
  • Préau S, Saulnier F, Dewavrin F, Durocher A, Chagnon JL. Passive leg raising is predictive of fluid responsiveness in spontaneously breathing patients with severe sepsis or acute pancreatitis. Crit Care Med. 2010 Mar;38(3):819-25. PMID: 20016380.

FOAM and web resources

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.