Objective: We report our experience with tele-echocardiography and echocardiograms recorded digitally or on videotape (recorded-echos) at The University of Arizona from August 2006 to December 2010 and compare their quality and diagnostic accuracy. Materials and Methods: Tele-echocardiograms (tele-echos) were transmitted from the Yuma Regional Medical Center to The University of Arizona via a T-1 and aT-3 line at a bandwidth of 768 kilobits per second. Recorded-echos were shipped for interpretation to The University of Arizona by overnight mail. Diagnostic accuracy was assessed by comparing tele- and recorded-echos with electrocardiograms performed by a pediatric cardiologist (PedsCard-echos). Results: Three hundred forty-six tele-echos in 260 patients and 455 recorded-echos in 406 patients were performed (median age, 6 and 8 days, respectively). Indications included possible congenital heart disease (CHD), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. Diagnostic categories included complex CHD, non-critical disease, PDA, and other. PedsCard-echos were available for 27% of the tele-echo and 30% of the recorded-echo patients. Comparisons between tele- and PedsCard-echo yielded no discrepancies in 12 (23%), expected resolution of condition in 26 (49%), and minor in 14 (26%). One (2%) major discrepancy was detected. Comparisons between recorded- and PedsCard-echo showed no discrepancies in 28 (40%), expected resolution of condition in 14 (20%), and minor discrepancies in 28 (40%) patients. No significant difference with respect to discrepancies was detected between tele- and recorded-echos. There was significant (p<0.01) improvement in tele- and recorded-echo study quality by 2010. Conclusions: (1) Tele-echocardiography can be performed successfully with excellent accuracy. (2) The quality of tele- and recorded-echo studies improved toward the end of the analysis period. (3) Although initially tele-echo studies were more accurate than recorded-echo studies, there was no difference between these two types of studies by the fourth year of the study. (4) Both tele- and recorded-echos were indispensible in the remote diagnosis of CHD.
- cardiology/cardiovascular disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management