Efficacy and time-efficiency of a "sonographer-driven" contrast echocardiography protocol in a high-volume echocardiography laboratory

Ramon Castello, Jonathan N. Bella, Aleksandr Rovner, Jimmy Swan, John Smith, Leslie Shaw

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29 Scopus citations


Background: Contrast echocardiography (CE) has not gained widespread use despite numerous studies demonstrating its efficacy in the assessment of left ventricular (LV) function. Methods: We sought to determine whether CE could be used in a high-volume echocardiography laboratory in a clinically effective and time efficient manner. We implemented a protocol with a feasibility phase and an established phase. Cost-benefit analyses were done on the basis of time use. Results: During the feasibility and established phases, data on 119 and 672 patients, respectively, were obtained. After a "sonographer-driven" protocol, contrast studies represented 7% to 8% of the total number of routine transthoracic and stress studies. Stress studies accounted for only 15% of the total number of contrast studies. Obesity was the most common indication for contrast use. LV visualization indices and wall thickening assessment, as evaluated by 2 blinded readers, were significantly improved with CE compared with second harmonic imaging alone. The time to make the decision to use CE and the time taken to administer contrast decreased significantly from the feasibility phase to the established phase (8.3 ± 5 vs 7.6 ± 5 min, P < .01, and 13.4 ± 10 vs 10.2 ± 5 min, P < .001, respectively). On the basis of time use only, a cost analysis indicated that savings were obtained at a 10-minute reduction in study time. Conclusions: A "sonographer-driven" CE protocol for LV assessment is feasible in high-volume echocardiography laboratories. It is clinically effective because it significantly improves LV global and regional wall motion visualization. A "sonographer-driven" CE protocol can reduce decision and administration times substantially, thus making CE time-efficient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-541
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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