Paediatric echocardiography by telemedicine--nine years' experience

J Telemed Telecare. 1997;3(4):200-4. doi: 10.1258/1357633971931165.


In 1987 we established a realtime echocardiography service by telemedicine from the paediatric cardiology department of a tertiary-care hospital in Halifax. The service was initially provided to single regional hospital but was expanded to six regional hospitals in the three Canadian Maritime Provinces. The system used a dial-up broadband video-transmission service provided by the telephone companies. Records of all transmissions were kept prospectively and reviewed to January 1997. A total of 324 transmissions were made. During 1995-96 there were 135 studies: 69 (51%) were urgent examinations of newborn children and 30 (22%) were urgent examinations of older children; repeat studies and postoperative checks (usually for pericardial effusion) accounted for the other 36 studies (27%). The images were of broadcast quality except in five cases where problems with transmission or poor sedation occurred. A comparison of 26 transmitted studies with repeat, 'in person' studies showed no important discrepancies in diagnosis. During the two-year study period, the cost of the network (equipment leasing costs and telecommunications costs) was C$90,000. Use of the telemedicine network saved unnecessary patient transfer in 31 cases. The cost of the transportation avoided was C$100,000-C$118,000. This review confirms our preliminary findings that broadband echocardiography transmission provides a service comparable in availability and accuracy to that provided in our paediatric cardiology division.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Echocardiography*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pediatrics / economics
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Telemedicine / economics
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telemetry
  • Transportation of Patients / economics