Focused transthoracic echocardiography by anaesthetists in the peri-operative period has recently been described; the data suggest that the specific skills required can be obtained by non cardiology physicians with limited training. Aortic stenosis is known to increase significantly the peri-operative risk in non-cardiac surgery. This study aimed to assess the ability of echocardiography naive trainee anaesthetists to recognise and assess the severity of aortic stenosis after a set amount of training. Five trainees underwent 2 h of didactic and hands-on teaching in evaluation of the aortic valve, after which they scanned 20 patients each. Their results were compared with those obtained by an experienced cardiac anaesthetist with echocardiography training and qualifications. There was 100% concordance between trainees and the consultant for assessment of clinically significant aortic stenosis, with no cases of misdiagnosis. There was also 90-100% agreement (kappa statistic 0.8-1) between the consultant and each trainee's assessment of clinically significant aortic stenosis based on a peak aortic velocity > 3 m.sec(-1). Anaesthesia trainees can be successfully and rapidly trained to recognise and estimate the severity of aortic stenosis.
© 2011 The Authors. Anaesthesia © 2011 The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.