Diagnostic performance of handheld echocardiography for the assessment of basic cardiac morphology and function: a validation study in routine cardiac patients

Christian Prinz, Jelena Dohrmann, Frank van Buuren, Thomas Bitter, Nikola Bogunovic, Dieter Horstkotte, Lothar Faber
Echocardiography 2012, 29 (8): 887-94

AIMS: To investigate the intra- and interrater variability of expert users in the interpretation of handheld echocardiographic studies (HAND).

METHODS: We scanned 320 consecutive patients with both HAND and high-end (HIGH) scanners. Images were interpreted independently by two blinded level III echocardiographers. Readings from the HIGH scanner served as the gold standard. Segmental endocardial-border delineation was scored to describe image quality. Assessment of left ventricular (LV) dimensions and regional/global LV function, and grading of valve disease were compared.

RESULTS: We obtained correlations of r > 0.8 (P < 0.01) for intrarater variability for both expert readers when they analyzed HAND and HIGH images in relation to image quality, wall-motion abnormalities, and LV measurements. For intrarater variability of LVEF assessment, the correlations were at least moderate (r > 0.6, P < 0.01). Interrater variability for HIGH images was r = 0.9 (P < 0.01) for all parameters. Interrater variability for HAND images was less favorable for all parameters, but was at least moderate (r > 0.6, P < 0.01). All cases of pericardial effusion were detected. The agreement for the detection and grading of mitral and aortic regurgitation was at least moderate (κ > 0.6, P < 0.01). Detection of tricuspid regurgitation was less favorable, but only cases of mild regurgitation were missed. All cases of aortic stenosis were detected by both echocardiographers.

CONCLUSIONS: In relation to the basic assessment of cardiac morphology and function, the interpretation by experienced echocardiographers of images obtained using handheld echocardiographic devices showed a moderate to very good correlation with standard echocardiography.

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