Three years’ experience of focused cardiovascular ultrasound in the peri-operative period


Dr Brian Cowie


Ultrasound applications in peri-operative medicine have become common place in modern anaesthesia practice. Anaesthetists have performed transoesophageal echocardiography in cardiac and selected non-cardiac surgery for over two decades. We aimed to assess the indications, impact on clinical management and accuracy of focused cardiovascular ultrasound performed by anaesthetists in the peri-operative period. One hundred and seventy patients over a 3-year period had a focused transthoracic echocardiogram. Adequate images to answer the clinical question were obtained in 167 out of 170 patients (98%). The undifferentiated systolic murmur was the commonest indication (98 out of 170, 58%). Some degree of aortic stenosis was present in 47 out of 170 (26%) of patients; mitral valve disease (30 out of 170 (18%)) and pulmonary hypertension (25 out of 170 (14%)) were also common. Changes in peri-operative management occurred in 140 out of 170 (82%) patients and major findings correlated with a formal cardiology transthoracic echocardiogram in 52 out of 57 (92%) patients. Focused cardiovascular ultrasound performed by anaesthetists in the peri-operative period accurately detects major cardiac pathology and significantly alters peri-operative management.