Focused Transthoracic Cardiac Ultrasound: A Survey of Training Practices

J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2016 Jan;30(1):102-6. doi: 10.1053/j.jvca.2015.05.111. Epub 2015 May 14.


Objective: The role of focused assessment by transthoracic echocardiography or focused cardiac ultrasound (FoCUS) in the perioperative setting is uncertain and evolving. To the authors' knowledge, there are no studies that evaluate the current teaching practices regarding FoCUS in US anesthesiology residencies. The authors surveyed residents and residency program directors to examine the frequency, type, and variability of instruction regarding training of FoCUS.

Design: A survey study.

Setting: Anesthesiology residency programs in the United States.

Participants: All 133 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education anesthesiology program directors and their residents were invited to participate in an anonymous electronic survey.

Measurements and main results: In all, 292 respondents replied to the survey, and 245 were included in the analysis. Overall response rate was 30% for program directors. The majority of the respondents were trainees (83.7%). FoCUS training was reported to be present by 36% of respondents. Respondents from institutions in which>10% of attending physicians used FoCUS were nearly 3 times as likely as those in which fewer attending physicians used FoCUS to report presence of FoCUS training program. The most common training mode is lectures with simulation (34%), followed by bedside training (31%). The most frequently reported responsible training parties were anesthesiologists (75%), followed by cardiologists (14%). Although FoCUS training is relatively rare, most respondents (187 of 205 residents and 26 of 40 program directors) said that FoCUS should be the standard in training for anesthesia residents.

Conclusions: Despite the increasing availability and use of ultrasound in clinical practice, FoCUS-related use and training remain uncommon in anesthesiology. Trainees in anesthesiology are not receiving adequate instruction in FoCUS despite their desire to acquire this skill.

Keywords: FoCUS; anesthesiology residency; education; transthoracic echocardiography; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / education*
  • Anesthesiology / methods*
  • Anesthesiology / standards
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Echocardiography / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Male
  • Physician Executives / education*
  • Physician Executives / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States