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Open access

WHO cares? Safety checklists in echocardiography

Clare Quarterman, Nick Fletcher, and Vishal Sharma

The number of potentially preventable medical errors that occur has been steadily increasing. These are a significant cause of patient morbidity, can lead to life-threatening complications and may result in a significant financial burden on health care. Effective communication and team working reduce errors and serious incidents. In particular the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Safe Surgery Checklist has been shown to reduce in-hospital mortality, postoperative complications and the incidence of surgical site infection. However an increasing number of complex medical procedures and interventions are being performed outside of the theatre environment. The lessons learnt from the surgical setting are relevant to other procedures performed in other areas. For the echocardiographer, transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) is one such procedure in which there is the potential for medical errors that may result in patient harm. This risk is increased if patient sedation is being administered. The British Society of Echocardiography and the Association of Cardiothoracic Anaesthetists have developed a procedure specific checklist to facilitate the use of checklists into routine practice. In this article we discuss the evolution of the WHO safety checklist and explore its relevance to TOE.

Open access

Echocardiography and monitoring patients receiving dopamine agonist therapy for hyperprolactinaemia: a joint position statement of the British Society of Echocardiography, the British Heart Valve Society and the Society for Endocrinology

Richard P Steeds, Craig E Stiles, Vishal Sharma, John B Chambers, Guy Lloyd, and William Drake

This is a joint position statement of the British Society of Echocardiography, the British Heart Valve Society and the Society for Endocrinology on the role of echocardiography in monitoring patients receiving dopamine agonist (DA) therapy for hyperprolactinaemia. (1) Evidence that DA pharmacotherapy causes abnormal valve morphology and dysfunction at doses used in the management of hyperprolactinaemia is extremely limited. Evidence of clinically significant valve pathology is absent, except for isolated case reports around which questions remain. (2) Attributing change in degree of valvular regurgitation, especially in mild and moderate tricuspid regurgitation, to adverse effects of DA in hyperprolactinaemia should be avoided if there are no associated pathological changes in leaflet thickness, restriction or retraction. It must be noted that even where morphological change in leaflet structure and function may be suspected, grading is semi-quantitative on echocardiography and may vary between different machines, ultrasound settings and operators. (3) Decisions regarding discontinuation of medication should only be made after review of serial imaging by an echocardiographer experienced in analysing drug-induced valvulopathy or carcinoid heart disease. (4) A standard transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed before a patient starts DA therapy for hyperprolactinaemia. Repeat transthoracic echocardiography should then be performed at 5 years after starting cabergoline in patients taking a total weekly dose less than or equal to 2 mg. If there has been no change on the 5-year scan, repeat echocardiography could continue at 5-yearly intervals. If a patient is taking more than a total weekly dose of 2 mg, then annual echocardiography is recommended.

Open access

Indications for echocardiography of replacement heart valves: a joint statement from the British Heart Valve Society and British Society of Echocardiography

John B Chambers, Madalina Garbi, Norman Briffa, Vishal Sharma, and Richard P Steeds

Echocardiography plays a vital role in the follow-up of patients with replacement heart valves. However, there is considerable variation in international guidelines regarding the recommended time points after implantation at which routine echocardiography should be performed. The purpose of routine echocardiography is to detect early structural valve deterioration in biological valves to improve the timing of redo interventions. However, the risk of valve deterioration depends on many valve-related factors (valve design and patient prosthesis mismatch) and patient-related factors (age, diabetes, systemic hypertension, renal dysfunction and smoking). In this statement, the British Heart Valve Society and the British Society of Echocardiography suggest practical guidance. A plan should be made soon after implantation, but this may need to be modified for individual patients and as circumstances change. It is important that patients are managed in a multidisciplinary valve clinic.

Open access

Stress echocardiography in coronary artery disease: a practical guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography

Richard P Steeds, Richard Wheeler, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Joseph Reiken, Petros Nihoyannopoulos, Roxy Senior, Mark J Monaghan, and Vishal Sharma

Stress echocardiography is an established technique for assessing coronary artery disease. It has primarily been used for the diagnosis and assessment of patients presenting with chest pain in whom there is an intermediate probability of coronary artery disease. In addition, it is used for risk stratification and to guide revascularisation in patients with known ischaemic heart disease. Although cardiac computed tomography has recently been recommended in the United Kingdom as the first-line investigation in patients presenting for the first time with atypical or typical angina, stress echocardiography continues to have an important role in the assessment of patients with lesions of uncertain functional significance and patients with known ischaemic heart disease who represent with chest pain. In this guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography, the indications and recommended protocols are outlined for the assessment of ischaemic heart disease by stress echocardiography.

Open access

Response to Latest British Society of Echocardiography recommendations for left ventricular ejection fraction categorisation: potential implications and relevance to contemporary heart failure management

Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Daniel X Augustine, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

Open access

Normal reference intervals for cardiac dimensions and function for use in echocardiographic practice: a guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography

Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Daniel X Augustine, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

This guideline presents reference limits for use in echocardiographic practice, updating previous guidance from the British Society of Echocardiography. The rationale for change is discussed, in addition to how the reference intervals were defined and the current limitations to their use. The importance of interpretation of echocardiographic parameters within the clinical context is explored, as is grading of abnormality. Each of the following echo parameters are discussed and updated in turn: left ventricular linear dimensions and LV mass; left ventricular volumes; left ventricular ejection fraction; left atrial size; right heart parameters; aortic dimensions; and tissue Doppler imaging. There are several important conceptual changes to the assessment of the heart’s structure and function within this guideline. New terminology for left ventricular function and left atrial size are introduced. The British Society of Echocardiography has advocated a new approach to the assessment of the aortic root, the right heart, and clarified the optimal methodology for assessment of LA size. The British Society of Echocardiography has emphasized a preference to use, where feasible, indexed measures over absolute values for any chamber size.

Open access

Normal reference intervals for cardiac dimensions and function for use in echocardiographic practice: a guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography

Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Daniel X Augustine, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Vishal Sharma, and the Education Committee of the British Society of Echocardiography

Open access

A minimum dataset for a standard transoesophageal echocardiogram: a guideline protocol from the British Society of Echocardiography

Richard Wheeler, Richard Steeds, Bushra Rana, Gill Wharton, Nicola Smith, Jane Allen, John Chambers, Richard Jones, Guy Lloyd, Kevin O'Gallagher, and Vishal Sharma

A systematic approach to transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) is essential to ensure that no pathology is missed during a study. In addition, a standardised approach facilitates the education and training of operators and is helpful when reviewing studies performed in other departments or by different operators. This document produced by the British Society of Echocardiography aims to provide a framework for a standard TOE study. In addition to a minimum dataset, the layout proposes a recommended sequence in which to perform a comprehensive study. It is recommended that this standardised approach is followed when performing TOE in all clinical settings, including intraoperative TOE to ensure important pathology is not missed. Consequently, this document has been prepared with the direct involvement of the Association of Cardiothoracic Anaesthetists (ACTA).

Open access

Exercise stress echocardiography in patients with valvular heart disease

Vishal Sharma, David E Newby, Ralph A H Stewart, Mildred Lee, Ruvin Gabriel, Niels Van Pelt, and Andrew J Kerr

Stress echocardiography is recommended for the assessment of asymptomatic patients with severe valvular heart disease (VHD) when there is discrepancy between symptoms and resting markers of severity. The aim of this study is to determine the prognostic value of exercise stress echocardiography in patients with common valve lesions. One hundred and fifteen patients with VHD (aortic stenosis (n=28); aortic regurgitation (n=35); mitral regurgitation, (n=26); mitral stenosis (n=26)), and age- and sex-matched controls (n=39) with normal ejection fraction underwent exercise stress echocardiography. The primary endpoint was a composite of death or hospitalization for heart failure. Asymptomatic VHD patients had lower exercise capacity than controls and 37% of patients achieved <85% of their predicted metabolic equivalents (METS). There were three deaths and four hospital admissions, and 24 patients underwent surgery during follow-up. An abnormal stress echocardiogram (METS <5, blood pressure rise <20 mmHg, or pulmonary artery pressure post exercise >60 mmHg) was associated with an increased risk of death or hospital admission (14% vs 1%, P<0.0001). The assessment of contractile reserve did not offer additional predictive value. In conclusion, an abnormal stress echocardiogram is associated with death and hospitalization with heart failure at 2 years. Stress echocardiography should be considered as part of the routine follow-up of all asymptomatic patients with VHD.

Open access

Intra-cardiac echocardiography in alcohol septal ablation: a prospective comparative study against trans-thoracic echocardiography

Robert M Cooper, Adeel Shahzad, James Newton, Niels Vejlstrup, Anna Axelsson, Vishal Sharma, OIiver Ormerod, and Rodney H Stables

Alcohol septal ablation (ASA) in hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy reduces left ventricular outflow tract gradients. A third of patients do not respond; inaccurate localisation of the iatrogenic infarct can be responsible. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) using myocardial contrast can be difficult in the laboratory environment. Intra-cardiac echocardiography (ICE) provides high-quality images. We aimed to assess ICE against TTE in ASA. The ability of ICE and TTE to assess three key domains (mitral valve (MV) anatomy and systolic anterior motion, visualisation of target septum, adjacent structures) was evaluated in 20 consecutive patients undergoing ASA. Two independent experts scored paired TTE and ICE images off line for each domain in both groups. The ability to see myocardial contrast following septal arterial injection was also assessed by the cardiologist performing ASA. In patients undergoing ASA, ICE was superior in viewing MV anatomy (P=0.02). TTE was superior in assessing adjacent structures (P=0.002). There was no difference in assessing target septum. Myocardial contrast: ICE did not clearly identify the area of contrast in 17/19 patients due to dense acoustic shadowing (8/19) and inadequate opacification of the myocardium (6/19). ICE only clearly localised contrast in 2/19 cases. ICE does not visualise myocardial contrast well and therefore cannot be used to guide ASA. TTE was substantially better at viewing myocardial contrast. There was no significant difference between ICE and TTE in the overall ability to comment on cardiac anatomy relevant to ASA.