To evaluate the diagnostic performances of two training programs for residents with no prior ultrasound experience to reach competences in extended basic critical care transthoracic echocardiography (CCE) including Doppler capabilities.
This is a prospective observational study in two intensive care units of teaching hospitals. Group I (five residents) completed a short training program (4-h theory; 3-h practical); group II (six residents) completed a longer training program (6-h theory; 12-h practical). The residents and an expert examined all patients who required a transthoracic echocardiography. Their agreement studied by Cohen's κ coefficient, concordance coefficient correlation (CCC) and Bland-Altman plots was used as an indicator of program effectiveness.
Group I performed 136 CCEs (mean/resident 27; range 22-32; 65 in ventilated patients) in 115 patients (62 men; 64 ± 18 years; Simplified Acute Physiologic Score [SAPS] II 37 ± 18). Group II performed 158 CCEs (mean/resident 26; range 21-31; 65 in ventilated patients) in 108 patients (64 men; 58 ± 17 years; SAPS II 42 ± 22). Both groups adequately assessed left ventricular (LV) systolic function (κ 0.75, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.64-0.86; κ 0.77, 95 % CI 0.66-0.88, respectively) and pericardial effusion (κ 0.83, 95 % CI 0.67-0.99; κ 0.76, 95 % CI 0.60-0.93, respectively). Group II appraised severe right ventricular dilatation and significant left-sided valve disease with good to very good agreement (κ 0.80, 95 % CI 0.56-0.96; κ 0.79, 95 % CI 0.66-0.93, respectively). Regarding left ventricular ejection fraction, E/A ratio, E/e' ratio and aortic peak velocity assessed by group II, CCCs were all >0.70 and the bias (mean difference) ±SD on Bland-Altman analysis was 1.3 ± 8.8 %, 0 ± 0.3, 0.4 ± 2.2 and 0.1 ± 0.4 m/s, respectively. Detection of paradoxical septum (κ 0.65, 95 % CI 0.37-0.93), of heterogeneous LV contraction (κ 0.49, 95 % CI 0.33-0.65) and of respiratory variation of the inferior vena cava (κ 0.27, 95 % CI 0.09-0.45), as well as stroke volume measurement (CCC 0.65, 95 % CI 0.54-0.74; bias ± SD -1.4 ± 4.7 cm), was appraised by group II with moderate agreement requiring probably more comprehensive training.
Although a training program blending 6-h theory and 12-h practical may be adapted to achieve some essential competences, it seems to be insufficiently to perform a complete extended basic critical care transthoracic echocardiography including Doppler capabilities.