Background: The authors assessed the performance of pocket-sized transthoracic echocardiography (pTTE) compared with standard transthoracic echocardiography (sTTE) and auscultation for early screening of valvular heart disease (VHD). Early diagnosis of significant VHD is a challenge, but it enables appropriate follow-up and implementation of the best therapeutic strategy.
Methods: sTTE, pTTE, and auscultation were performed by three different experienced physicians on 284 unselected patients. All cases of VHD detected by each of these three techniques were noted. sTTE was the gold standard. Each physician performed one examination and was blinded to the results of other examinations.
Results: We diagnosed a total of 301 cases of VHD, with a large predominance of regurgitant lesions: 269 cases (89.3%) of regurgitant VHD and 32 (10.7%) of stenotic VHD. pTTE was highly sensitive (85.7%) and specific (97.9%) for screening for VHD, while auscultation detected only 54.1%. All significant cases of VHD (at least mild severity) were detected on pTTE. The weighted κ coefficient between pTTE and sTTE for the assessment of mitral regurgitation was 0.71 (95% CI, 0.70-0.72), indicating good agreement. The weighted κ coefficients between pTTE and sTTE for the assessment of aortic regurgitation and aortic stenosis were 0.97 (95% CI, 0.96-0.98) and 0.98 (95% CI, 0.97-0.99), respectively, indicating excellent agreement.
Conclusions: pTTE performed by physicians with level III competency in echocardiography is reliable for identifying significant VHD and should be proposed as a new screening tool.
Keywords: Pocket-sized transthoracic echocardiography; Screening; Valvular heart disease.
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