The 5-minute screening echocardiogram for athletes

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2008 Jul;21(7):786-8. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2007.11.013. Epub 2008 Jan 9.


Background: Echocardiography is an accurate way to identify common cardiac abnormalities that lead to sudden death. We report a screening echocardiogram protocol incorporated into the routine athletic medical assessment for all incoming college freshman athletes.

Methods: A limited 2-dimensional echocardiogram was performed on athletes as part of a routine sports physical examination. The examination was performed by sonographers and senior cardiovascular medicine fellows and interpreted in real time by cardiologists using a 1-page checklist. No images were recorded.

Results: Of the 395 athletes representing 14 sports, 192 were female. The limited 2-dimensional echocardiogram took approximately 5 minutes per athlete. The majority of studies revealed normal findings (84%). A total of 55 had minor abnormalities not requiring follow-up. Five had abnormalities requiring a full echocardiogram and consultation with a cardiologist.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that a rapid screening echocardiogram is feasible and can be incorporated into the routine athletic medical examination for incoming varsity athletes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / complications
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sports*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology