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Investigating the European perspective of neonatal point-of-care echocardiography in the neonatal intensive care unit--a pilot study

Investigating the European perspective of neonatal point-of-care echocardiography in the neonatal intensive care unit--a pilot study

European Journal of Pediatrics 172(7): 907-911

Point-of-care functional neonatal echocardiography (fnECHO) is increasingly used to assess haemodynamic status or patency of the ductus arteriosus (PDA). In Australasia, 90 % of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) practice point-of-care fnECHO. The Australian Society of Ultrasound Medicine offers a training certificate for fnECHO. In Europe, the use and indications of fnECHO and the extent of point-of-care fnECHO training and accreditation are unknown. We aimed to assess utilisation and training of fnECHO in Europe. For this, we conducted an email survey of 45 randomly chosen tertiary NICUs in 17 European countries. The recall rate was 89 % (n = 40). Neonatologists with skills in fnECHO worked in 29 NICUs (74 %), but paediatric cardiologists would routinely perform most fnECHOs. Twenty-four-hour echocardiography service was available in 31 NICUs (78 %). Indications for fnECHO included assessment of haemodynamic volume status (53 %), presence or absence of pulmonary hypertension of the neonate (55 %), indication for and effect of volume replacement therapy (58 %), PDA assessment and monitoring of PDA treatment (80 %). Teaching of fnECHO was offered to trainees in 22 NICUs (55 %). Teaching of fnECHO was provided by paediatric cardiologists (55 %) or by neonatologists (45 %). Only six (15 %) national colleges accredited fnECHO teaching courses. fnECHO is widely practiced by neonatologists across Europe for a broad range of clinical questions. However, there is a lack of formal training and accreditation of fnECHO skills. This could be addressed by designing a dedicated European fnECHO training programme and by agreeing on a common European certificate of fnECHO.

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Accession: 036781548

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PMID: 23440477

DOI: 10.1007/s00431-013-1963-1

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