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Open access

Cameron Dockerill, William Woodward, Annabelle McCourt, Cristiana Monteiro, Elena Benedetto, Maria Paton, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Keith Pearce, Mark J Monaghan, Daniel X Augustine, and Paul Leeson

Introduction

Healthcare delivery is being transformed by COVID-19 to reduce transmission risk but continued delivery of routine clinical tests is essential. Stress echocardiography is one of the most widely used cardiac tests in the NHS. We assessed the impact of the first (W1) and second (W2) waves of the pandemic on the ability to deliver stress echocardiography.

Methods

Clinical echocardiography teams in 31 NHS hospitals participating in the EVAREST study were asked to complete a survey on the structure and delivery of stress echocardiography as well as its impact on patients and staff in July and November 2020. Results were compared to stress echocardiography activity in the same centre during January 2020.

Results

24 completed the survey in July, and 19 NHS hospitals completed the survey in November. A 55% reduction in the number of studies performed was reported in W1, recovering to exceed pre-COVID rates in W2. The major change was in the mode of stress delivery. 70% of sites stopped their exercise stress service in W1, compared to 19% in W2. In those still using exercise during W1, 50% were wearing FFP3/N95 masks, falling to 38% in W2. There was also significant variability in patient screening practices with 7 different pre-screening questionnaires used in W1 and 6 in W2.

Conclusion

Stress echocardiography delivery restarted effectively after COVID-19 with adaptations to reduce transmission that means activity has been able to continue, and exceed, pre-COVID-19 levels during the second wave. Further standardization of protocols for patient screening and PPE may help further improve consistency of practice within the United Kingdom.

Open access

Shaun Robinson, Bushra Rana, David Oxborough, Rick Steeds, Mark Monaghan, Martin Stout, Keith Pearce, Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Maria Paton, Waheed Akhtar, Radwa Bedair, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Katherine Collins, Cheryl Oxley, Julie Sandoval, Rebecca Schofield MBChB, Anjana Siva, Karen Parker, James Willis, and Daniel X Augustine

Since cardiac ultrasound was introduced into medical practice around the middle twentieth century, transthoracic echocardiography has developed to become a highly sophisticated and widely performed cardiac imaging modality in the diagnosis of heart disease. This evolution from an emerging technique with limited application, into a complex modality capable of detailed cardiac assessment has been driven by technological innovations that have both refined ‘standard’ 2D and Doppler imaging and led to the development of new diagnostic techniques. Accordingly, the adult transthoracic echocardiogram has evolved to become a comprehensive assessment of complex cardiac anatomy, function and haemodynamics. This guideline protocol from the British Society of Echocardiography aims to outline the minimum dataset required to confirm normal cardiac structure and function when performing a comprehensive standard adult echocardiogram and is structured according to the recommended sequence of acquisition. It is recommended that this structured approach to image acquisition and measurement protocol forms the basis of every standard adult transthoracic echocardiogram. However, when pathology is detected and further analysis becomes necessary, views and measurements in addition to the minimum dataset are required and should be taken with reference to the appropriate British Society of Echocardiography imaging protocol. It is anticipated that the recommendations made within this guideline will help standardise the local, regional and national practice of echocardiography, in addition to minimising the inter and intra-observer variation associated with echocardiographic measurement and interpretation.