ACCURACY of the physical diagnoses of heart conditions is boosted through the use of a handheld ultrasound device, with more successful diagnoses of valvular heart disease (VHD) compared to traditional methods.
Traditionally identified through the detection of a heart murmur using a stethoscope, VHD may be detected by an echocardiogram machine, or a handheld echocardiography device, which uses sound waves to produce cardiac images for the observation of any irregular heartbeat or valve irregularities.
64 second-year students were given a 90-minute personalised lesson on how to use handheld echocardiography technology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, New York, USA. Able to fit in the hand of a physician and sporting a screen the size of a smart phone, the Vscan device used in the study allows quick assessment of cardiac size, structure, function, and haemodynamics or blood flow.
The study aim was to evaluate whether novice medical students could achieve more accurate diagnoses of VHD through successful operation of this technology compared to 72 classmates given only traditional advice – reviewing medical histories and analysing heart murmur sounds through a stethoscope.
58% versus 40% of the enhanced training in handheld technology and standard training groups achieved successful diagnoses upon additional provision with video of echocardiograms, respectively. “As the field of medicine grows more complex, our study findings show that the addition of handheld echocardiography as a component of students’ diagnostic skill set can substantially enhance the accuracy of physical diagnosis, even when introduced at the earliest stages of the students’ training,” said Dr David Vorchheimer, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“We have shown that even a limited 90-minute training session with the small, portable handheld ultrasound device can give medical students and other healthcare professionals in the hospital or the community the ability to more quickly and more accurately diagnose certain heart conditions.”