The incidence of significant obesity is rising across the globe. These patients often have a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors and are frequently referred for noninvasive cardiac imaging tests. Stress echocardiography (SE) is widely used for assessment of patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease (CAD), but its clinical utility in morbidly obese patients (in whom image quality may suffer due to body habitus) has been largely unknown. The recently published Stress Ultrasonography in Morbid Obesity (SUMO) study has shown that SE, when performed appropriately with ultrasound contrast agents (whether performed with physiological or pharmacological stress), has excellent feasibility and appropriately risk stratifies morbidly obese patients, including identification of patients who require revascularization. This article reviews the evidence supporting the use of echocardiographic techniques in morbidly obese patients for assessment of known or suspected CAD and briefly discusses other noninvasive modalities, including magnetic resonance and nuclear techniques, comparing and contrasting these techniques against SE.
Benoy N Shah and Roxy Senior
Bashir Alaour, Christina Menexi and Benoy N Shah
International best practice guidelines recommend lifelong follow-up of patients that have undergone valve repair or replacement surgery and provide recommendations on the utilization of echocardiography during follow-up. However, such follow-up regimes can vary significantly between different centres and sometimes within the same centre. We undertook this study to determine the patterns of clinical follow-up and use of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) amongst cardiologists in a large UK tertiary centre. In this retrospective study, we identified patients that underwent heart valve repair or replacement surgery in 2008. We used local postal codes to identify patients within our hospital’s follow-up catchment area. We determined the frequency of clinical follow-up and use of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) during the 9-year follow-up period (2009–2016 inclusive). Of 552 patients that underwent heart valve surgery, 93 (17%) were eligible for local follow-up. Of these, the majority (61/93, 66%) were discharged after their 6-week post-operative check-up with no further follow-up. Of the remaining 32 patients, there was remarkable heterogeneity in follow-up regimes and use of TTE. This variation did not correlate with the prosthesis type. In summary, the frequency of clinical follow-up and use of echocardiography is highly variable in contemporary practice. Many patients are inappropriately discharged back to their family doctor with no plans for hospital follow-up. These data further support the creation of dedicated specialist heart valve clinics to optimize patient care, ensure rational use of TTE and optimize adherence with best practice guidelines.
Benoy N Shah and Dhrubo J Rakhit
Athina Chasapi, Adam Hobbs, Theodore Velissaris and Benoy N Shah
Benoy N Shah, Anita MacNab, Jane Lynch, Reinette Hampson, Roxy Senior and Richard P Steeds
Stress echocardiography is a widely utilised test in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease (CAD), valvular heart disease and cardiomyopathies. Its advantages include the ubiquitous availability of echocardiography, lack of ionising radiation, choice of physiological or pharmacological stressors, good diagnostic accuracy and robust supporting evidence base. SE has evolved significantly as a technique over the past three decades and has benefitted considerably from improvements in overall image quality (superior resolution), machine technology (e.g. digital cine-loop acquisition and side-by-side image display) and development of second-generation ultrasound contrast agents that have improved reader confidence and diagnostic accuracy. The purpose of this article is to review the breadth of SE in contemporary clinical cardiology and discuss the recently launched British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) Stress Echocardiography accreditation scheme.
Charlotte Atkinson, Jonathan Hinton, Edmund B Gaisie, Arthur M Yue, Paul R Roberts, Dhrubo J Rakhit and Benoy N Shah
Transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) is frequently performed prior to atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation to exclude left atrial appendage (LAA) thrombus. However, patients undergoing AF ablation are usually anticoagulated, thus making the presence of thrombus unlikely in most cases. This study aimed to determine whether the CHA2DS2VASc scoring system can be used to identify patients that do not require TOE prior to AF ablation. In this single-centre retrospective study, local institutional and primary care databases and electronic patient records were searched to identify patients that had undergone TOE prior to AF ablation. Patient demographics, CHA2DS2VASc score, TOE findings and anticoagulation status were collected for analysis. Over a 7-year period (2008–2014), 332 patients (age 57 ± 10 years; 74% male) underwent TOE prior to proposed AF ablation. CHA2DS2VASc scores of 0, 1, 2 and >2 were found in 39, 34, 15 and 12% of patients, respectively. The prevalence of LAA thrombus was 0.6% (2 patients) and these 2 patients had risk scores of 2 and 4. No patients with a score of 0 or 1 had LAA thrombus. Patients that are classed as low risk by the CHA2DS2VASc score do not require a pre-ablation TOE to screen for LAA thrombus provided they are adequately anticoagulated. This would lead to a significant reduction in health care expenditures by reducing unnecessary TOE requests and thereby improve patient experience.