A study in the BMJ (a special publication) has determined that hand-carried ultrasound (HCU) is effective as a substitute for a standard echocardiography session a third of the time for making a definite diagnosis. Here’s a short excerpt from the paper:
…a complete echocardiographic examination is an expensive diagnostic test, which requires skilled personnel, and is usually performed several days after the first cardiology evaluation. This results in the need for a second patient-doctor encounter for possible revision of treatment, with consequent delay in diagnosis and treatment and high-cost outpatient cardiology clinic management.
Over the last few years, hand-carried ultrasound (HCU) devices have proved to be reliable tools for rapidly assessing the presence of cardiac abnormalities, with the potential for providing answers to the clinical questions raised after physical examination. Their use could lead to a reduction in the number of SE examinations, a decreased work load for echocardiographic laboratories, and prompt clinical decisions, with a positive impact
on both patient management and financial arrangements.
…The use of a simple HCU device in the outpatient cardiology clinic allowed reliable diagnosis in
one third of the patients referred for echocardiography, which translates into cost and time saving benefits.
Paper abstract: A hand-carried cardiac ultrasound device in the outpatient cardiology clinic reduces the need for standard echocardiography. [Heart 2007;93:470-475]
(Hat Tip: Dr. Wes)