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Audit of cardiac pathology detection using a criteria-based perioperative echocardiography service

Department of Anaesthesia, Joondalup Health Campus, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Summary

Transthoracic echocardiography is often used to screen patients prior to non-cardiac surgery to detect conditions associated with perioperative haemodynamic compromise and to stratify risk. However, anaesthetists’ use of echocardiography is quite variable. A consortium led by the American College of Cardiology Foundation has developed appropriate use criteria for echocardiography. At Joondalup Hospital in Western Australia, we have used these criteria to order echocardiographic studies in patients attending our anaesthetic pre-admission clinic. We undertook this audit to determine the incidence of significant echocardiographic findings using this approach. In a 22-month period, 606 transthoracic echocardiographic studies were performed. This represented 8.7% of clinic attendees and 1.7% of all surgical patients. In about two-thirds of the patients, the indication for echocardiography was identified on the basis of a telephone screening questionnaire. The most common indications were poor exercise tolerance (27.4%), ischaemic heart disease (20.9%) and cardiac murmurs (16.3%). Over 26% of patients studied had significant cardiac pathology (i.e. moderate or severe echocardiographic findings), most importantly moderate or severe aortic stenosis (8.6%), poor left ventricular function (7.1%), a regional wall motion abnormality (4.3%) or moderate or severe mitral regurgitation (4.1%). Using appropriate use criteria to guide ordering transthoracic echocardiography studies led to a high detection rate of clinically important cardiac pathology in our perioperative service.

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