Can emergency physicians diagnose and correctly classify diastolic dysfunction using bedside echocardiography?

Robert R. Ehrman*, Frances M. Russell, Asimul H. Ansari, Bosko Margeta, Julie M. Clary, Errick Christian, Karen S. Cosby, John Bailitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives The goal of this study was to determine if emergency physicians (EPs) can correctly perform a bedside diastology examination (DE) and correctly grade the level of diastolic function with minimal additional training in echocardiography beyond what is learned in residency. We hypothesize that EPs will be accurate at detecting and grading diastolic dysfunction (DD) when compared to a criterion standard interpretation by a cardiologist. Methods We conducted a prospective, observational study on a convenience sample of adult patients who presented to an urban emergency department with a chief concern of dyspnea. All patients had a bedside echocardiogram, including a DE, performed by an EP-sonographer who had 3 hours of didactic and hands-on echocardiography training with a cardiologist. The DE was interpreted as normal, grade 1 to 3 if DD was present, or indeterminate, all based on predefined criteria. This interpretation was compared to that of a cardiologist who was blinded to the EPs' interpretations. Results We enrolled 62 patients; 52% had DD. Using the cardiology interpretation as the criterion standard, the sensitivity and specificity of the EP-performed DE to identify clinically significant diastolic function were 92% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60-100) and 69% (95% CI, 50-83), respectively. Agreement between EPs and cardiology on grade of DD was assessed using κ and weighted κ: κ = 0.44 (95% CI, 0.29-0.59) and weighted κ = 0.52 (95% CI, 0.38-0.67). Overall, EPs rated 27% of DEs as indeterminate, compared with only 15% by cardiology. For DEs where both EPs and cardiology attempted an interpretation (indeterminates excluded) κ = 0.45 (95% CI, 0.26 to 0.65) and weighted κ = 0.54 (95% CI, 0.36-0.72). Conclusion After limited diastology-specific training, EPs are able to accurately identify clinically significant DD. However, correct grading of DD, when compared to a cardiologist, was only moderate, at best. Our results suggest that further training is necessary for EPs to achieve expertise in grading DD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1178-1183
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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