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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.

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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.

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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

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

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a relatively common inherited cardiac condition with a prevalence of approximately one in 500. It results in otherwise unexplained hypertrophy of the myocardium and predisposes the patient to a variety of disease-related complications including sudden cardiac death. Echocardiography is of vital importance in the diagnosis, assessment and follow-up of patients with known or suspected HCM. The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has previously published a minimum dataset for transthoracic echocardiography, providing the core parameters necessary when performing a standard echocardiographic study. However, for patients with known or suspected HCM, additional views and measurements are necessary. These additional views allow more subtle abnormalities to be detected or may provide important information in order to identify patients with an adverse prognosis. The aim of this Guideline is to outline the additional images and measurements that should be obtained when performing a study on a patient with known or suspected HCM.

Open access

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

Gill Wharton, Richard Steeds, Jane Allen, Hollie Phillips, Richard Jones, Prathap Kanagala, Guy Lloyd, Navroz Masani, Thomas Mathew, David Oxborough, Bushra Rana, Julie Sandoval, Richard Wheeler, Kevin O'Gallagher and Vishal Sharma

There have been significant advances in the field of echocardiography with the introduction of a number of new techniques into standard clinical practice. Consequently, a ‘standard’ echocardiographic examination has evolved to become a more detailed and time-consuming examination that requires a high level of expertise. This Guideline produced by the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) Education Committee aims to provide a minimum dataset that should be obtained in a comprehensive standard echocardiogram. In addition, the layout proposes a recommended sequence in which to acquire the images. If abnormal pathology is detected, additional views and measurements should be obtained with reference to other BSE protocols when appropriate. Adherence to these recommendations will promote an increased quality of echocardiography and facilitate accurate comparison of studies performed either by different operators or at different departments.

Open access

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.

Open access

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

David Oxborough, Daniel Augustine, Sabiha Gati, Keith George, Allan Harkness, Thomas Mathew, Michael Papadakis, Liam Ring, Shaun Robinson, Julie Sandoval, Rizwan Sarwar, Sanjay Sharma, Vishal Sharma, Nabeel Sheikh, John Somauroo, Martin Stout, James Willis and Abbas Zaidi

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) in an athlete is a rare but tragic event. In view of this, pre-participation cardiac screening is mandatory across many sporting disciplines to identify those athletes at risk. Echocardiography is a primary investigation utilized in the pre-participation setting and in 2013 the British Society of Echocardiography and Cardiac Risk in the Young produced a joint policy document providing guidance on the role of echocardiography in this setting. Recent developments in our understanding of the athlete’s heart and the application of echocardiography have prompted this 2018 update.

Open access

Thomas Mathew, Lynne Williams, Govardhan Navaratnam, Bushra Rana, Richard Wheeler, Katherine Collins, Allan Harkness, Richard Jones, Dan Knight, Kevin O'Gallagher, David Oxborough, Liam Ring, Julie Sandoval, Martin Stout, Vishal Sharma, Richard P Steeds and on behalf of the British Society of Echocardiography Education Committee

Heart failure (HF) is a debilitating and life-threatening condition, with 5-year survival rate lower than breast or prostate cancer. It is the leading cause of hospital admission in over 65s, and these admissions are projected to rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is the first-line step in diagnosis in acute and chronic HF and provides immediate information on chamber volumes, ventricular systolic and diastolic function, wall thickness, valve function and the presence of pericardial effusion, while contributing to information on aetiology. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the third most common cause of HF and is the most common cardiomyopathy. It is defined by the presence of left ventricular dilatation and left ventricular systolic dysfunction in the absence of abnormal loading conditions (hypertension and valve disease) or coronary artery disease sufficient to cause global systolic impairment. This document provides a practical approach to diagnosis and assessment of dilated cardiomyopathy that is aimed at the practising sonographer.