Background: A new, miniaturized ultrasound device, the pocket echocardiograph (PE), is highly portable and can be carried inside a lab-coat pocket. Studies of this device are limited and have not examined the use by novice echocardiographers. We hypothesize that a novice echocardiographer can use PE to produce interpretable cardiac images, and that both novice and expert echocardiographers can use PE to accurately quantify ejection fraction.
Methods: Unselected subjects (n = 40) in an echocardiography laboratory underwent blinded formal transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and PE (Acuson P10, Siemens, Mountain View, CA, USA). A cardiology fellow with 2 months of echocardiography training acquired PE images. The fellow and an experienced echocardiographer interpreted the PE studies offline in a blinded fashion. To assess adequacy, studies were graded as technically adequate, limited, or inadequate. A visual estimation of ejection fraction was made. Comparisons were made to the formal reported TTE.
Results: Subjects were heterogeneous, 43% male; age 64 ± 17 years, and ejection fraction 52.4%± 12.3%. All PE studies were interpretable, and the vast majority of PE and TTE images were considered technically adequate (77.5% and 85% respectively; P = 0.32). Ejection fraction showed a good correlation, bias, and limits of agreement for the fellow's interpretation (r = 0.78, -5.9%, ±16.6%) with stronger association for the experienced echocardiographer (r = 0.88, -0.8%, ±11.4%).
Conclusion: Novice echocardiographers using the PE can produce adequate quality images. Both expert and novice echocardiographers can use PE to quantify ejection fraction over a broad range of patients. The device's low cost and portability may greatly expand the availability of bedside echocardiography for routine or urgent cardiovascular assessment.
© 2010, The Authors Journal compilation © 2010, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.