Benefits of predischarge echocardiography service for postnatal heart murmurs

Acta Paediatr. 2012 Aug;101(8):e333-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02687.x. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Aim: To review the findings and outcomes of predischarge echocardiography service for postnatal heart murmurs provided by neonatologists.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all predischarge echocardiograms performed on babies from the postnatal wards (PNW) over the last 3 years. We evaluated the indications, median age, findings and outcome.

Results: A total of 408 echocardiograms were performed on 350 babies on the PNW. The most common indication was presence of a murmur (58%). In babies with a heart murmur, 26% had a normal echocardiogram, 2% had major structural heart defects, 38% had minor structural heart defects and 34% had transient circulatory changes. 32% were discharged with no follow-up, 28% were followed up in the local cardiac clinic and 40% were referred to the cardiologist.

Conclusion: Predischarge echocardiography service for postnatal heart murmurs provided by neonatologists has the benefit of providing an early diagnosis, counselling of the parents and arranging appropriate follow-up. It helps to triage the referrals to the cardiologist. We felt that we were able to alleviate parental anxieties by providing a definitive diagnosis and written information prior to discharge from hospital. We strongly believe that this service should only be provided by those appropriately trained and skilled in echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Early Diagnosis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Murmurs / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Murmurs / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Patient Discharge
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography