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Practice Variations in Pediatric Echocardiography Laboratories

Camarda, J. A.; Patel, A.; Carr, M. R.; Young, L. T.

Pediatr Cardiol. 2018 Oct 26; 40(3):537-545

Abstract

Quantification guidelines for pediatric echocardiograms were published in 2010 establishing consensus regarding standard measurements. However, a standard protocol for performance and analysis of pediatric echocardiograms was not defined. This study aims to identify practice variations among pediatric laboratories. A survey was sent to 85 North American pediatric laboratory directors. The survey included 29 questions assessing: demographics, methods of image acquisition, parameters routinely evaluated and reported, and methods used to assess chamber sizes, valves, and ventricular function. There were 47/85 (55%) responses; 83% were academic centers and 77% in an urban setting. Wide variations exist in acquisition method (clips versus sweeps) and color scale settings. The most commonly used methods for left ventricular (LV) function are M-mode shortening fraction, qualitative assessment, and Doppler Tissue Imaging. The most commonly used parameter for right ventricular function is qualitative. LV mass is routinely measured by the majority of centers with variations in methods of calculation. Conversely, while a minority measure left atrial volume, there is consensus regarding the preferred method. While multiple techniques exist for assessing valves, qualitative assessment is reported to be the preferred method. Despite quantification guidelines, there is a lack of uniformity in performance and analysis of pediatric echocardiograms. Further studies are needed to determine why variations exist and whether development of consensus guidelines might improve interpretation, consistency and quality of reports, patient care, and provide a standardized system allowing for comparative research among centers.

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