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December 31, 2021 — Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography


The authors retrospectively evaluated the impact of ultrasound enhancing agent (UEA) use in the first transthoracic echocardiographic (TTE) examination, regardless of baseline image quality, on the number of repeat TTEs and length of stay (LOS) during a heart failure (HF) admission.

There were 9,115 HF admissions associated with admission TTE examinations over a 4-year period (5,337 men; mean age, 67.6 ± 15.0 years). Patients were grouped into those who received UEAs (contrast group) in the first TTE study and those who did not (noncontrast group). Repeat TTE examinations were classified as justified if performed for concrete clinical indications during hospitalization.

In the 9,115 admissions for HF (5,600 in the contrast group, 3,515 in the noncontrast group), 927 patients underwent repeat TTE studies (505 in the contrast group, 422 in the noncontrast group), which were considered justified in 823 patients. Of the 104 patients who underwent unjustified repeat TTE studies, 80 (76.7%) belonged to the noncontrast group and 24 to the contrast group. Also, UEA use increased from 50.4% in 2014 to 74.3%, and the rate of unjustified repeat studies decreased from 1.3% to 0.9%. The rates of unjustified repeat TTE imaging were 2.3% and 0.4% (in the noncontrast and contrast groups, respectively), and patients in the contrast group were less likely to undergo unjustified repeat examinations (odds ratio, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.12-0.29; P < .0001). The mean LOS was significantly lower in the contrast group (9.5 ± 10.5 vs 11.1 ± 13.7 days). The use of UEA in the first TTE study was also associated with reduced LOS (linear regression, β1 = -0.47, P = .036), with 20% lower odds for odds of prolonged (>6 days) LOS.

The routine use of UEA in the first TTE examination for HF irrespective of image quality is associated with reduced unjustified repeat TTE testing and may reduce LOS during an index HF admission.

Authors: K Charlotte Lee, Shizhen Liu, Patrick Callahan, Theresa Green, Terika Jarrett, J D Cochran, Yajun Mei, Sara Mobasseri, Hassan Sayegh, Vibhav Rangarajan, Peter Flueckiger, Mani A Vannan

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia; Piedmont Heart Institute, Atlanta, Georgia.

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