“Echo pause” for postoperative transthoracic echocardiographic surveillance

Kelly Cox, Alisa Arunamata, Catherine D. Krawczeski, Charitha Reddy, Alaina K. Kipps, Jin Long, Stephen J. Roth, David M. Axelrod, Frank Hanley, Andrew Shin, Elif Seda Selamet Tierney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: No guidelines exist for inpatient postoperative transthoracic echocardiographic (TTE) surveillance in congenital heart disease. We prospectively evaluated indications for postoperative TTEs in patients with congenital heart disease to identify areas to improve upon (Phase 1) and then assessed the impact of a simple pilot intervention (Phase 2). Methods: We included patients with RACHS-1 (Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery) scores of 2 and 3 to keep the cohort homogenous. During Phase 1, we collected data prospectively to identify postoperative TTEs for which there were no new findings and no associated clinical management decisions (“potentially redundant” TTEs). During Phase 2, prior to placement of a TTE order, an “Echo Pause” was performed during rounds to prompt review of prior TTE results and indication for the current order. The number of “potentially redundant” TTEs during Phase 1 vs. Phase 2 was compared. Results: During Phase 1, 98 postoperative TTEs were performed on 51 patients. Potentially “redundant” TTEs were identified in two main areas: (a) TTEs ordered to evaluate pericardial effusion and (b) TTEs ordered with the indication of “postoperative,” “follow-up,” or “discharge” in the setting of a prior complete postoperative TTE and no apparent change in clinical status. During Phase 2, 101 TTEs were performed on 63 patients. The number of “potentially redundant” TTEs decreased from 14/98 (14%) to 5/101 (5%) (P =.026). Conclusion: Our results suggest that the number of “potentially redundant” TTEs during inpatient postoperative surveillance of patients with congenital heart disease can be decreased by a simple intervention during rounds such as an “Echo Pause.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2078-2085
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • congenital heart disease
  • echocardiography
  • inpatient
  • pediatrics
  • postoperative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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