We evaluated blinded readings by a physician using a miniature real-time 'ultrasound stethoscope' compared with a 'standard' echo instrument used by an independent physician. Size of all four cardiac chambers, wall motion, all four valves, thickness of interventricular septum and left ventricular posterior wall, and pericardial effusion were assessed in 66 patients. Each physician estimated whether he had answered the referring question and gave a final diagnosis. The physician using the ultrasound stethoscope correctly assessed chamber size in 87 percent of cases, segmental left ventricular wall motion in 71 percent of segments studied, and wall thickness in 88 percent of cases, and the diagnosis by the ultrasound stethoscope agreed with that made by the standard instrument in 68 percent of cases. The physician with the ultrasound stethoscope detected structural valvular problems (eg, stenosis) in 70 percent of cases but only detected flow abnormalities (eg, regurgitation) in 14 percent of cases. We conclude that (1) an experienced echocardiographer using an ultrasound stethoscope can detect most structural abnormalities found by a standard echocardiographic instrument; (2) chamber size, valvular stenosis, and pericardial effusions were accurately assessed; (3) the ultrasound stethoscope cannot be used to detect valvular regurgitation; and (4) limitations include the lack of freeze-frame, M-mode, hard copy, and Doppler.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine