Reporting your handheld ECHO findings
Handheld echocardiography (HHE) studies are not complete until a report is made available for the referring team or individual.
A systematic approach should be used when reporting studies: standardized protocols ensure that key components of the study are clearly described in a structured format for other clinicians. Handheld echocardiography also ensures documentation of the results and allows for comparison with future studies.
In certain cases—particularly in intensive care—a verbal description of the findings may precede a written report. In these situations, clear language is essential to ensure that the results are understood by doctors who are not trained in echocardiography. Phrases such as “severely calcified, functionally bicuspid aortic valve, peak velocity of 5 m/s” can easily be reworded to “severe aortic stenosis”, which will be understood by all clinicians.
In the written report, 11 key components are required to ensure proper documentation of the echocardiography findings:
- Date, time, study location, and name of the operator
- Indications of the echocardiogram
- COVID status of the patient (positive, negative, unknown)
- Ventilation status (for intensive care patients)
- Description of biventricular size and function
- Presence of regional wall motion abnormalities
- Presence of valve lesions
- Presence of pericardial effusion
- Description of inferior vena cava (IVC) size, if applicable (filling status)
- Hemodynamic status (blood pressure, heart rate, and rhythm)
- Patient’s body size (height, weight, and body surface area)
When possible, measurements should be performed at a workstation to limit exposure time at the patient’s bedside.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) leads are not typically used in HHE, since they increase the risk of cross-contamination. Heart rate and rhythm can be obtained by reviewing ECG monitors at the time of the study or from previously recorded ECGs.
Similarly, height and weight measurements can be obtained from admission records away from the bedside.
Figure 1. Key components for the handheld echocardiography (HHE) written report include the date, time, study location, name of the operator, indications of the echocardiogram, COVID status of the patient, ventilation status, description of biventricular size and function, presence of regional wall abnormalities, presence of valve lesions, presence of pericardial effusion, description of inferior vena cava (IVC) size, hemodynamic status (blood pressure, heart rate, rhythm), and body size (height, weight, body surface area).
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