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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24-32

Indications, utility and appropriateness of echocardiography in outpatient cardiology

1 Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Department, University of Pisa, Italy
2 ASL 9 BA Modugno, Bari, Italy
3 Outpatient Cardiology, ASL Napoli 3 Sud, Napoli, Italy
4 Cardiovascular Diagnostic Centre, Paterṇ (CT), Italy
5 Cardiology, Private Medical Centre Lazzaro Spallanzani, Reggio Emilia, Italy
6 Outpatient Cardiology, CMSR-Veneto Medica, Altavilla Vicentina (VI), Italy

Correspondence Address:
Enrico Orsini
Cardiology Division, Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Department, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Pisana, Via Paradisa 2, 56124 - Pisa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: The Authors declare the absence of economic or other types of conflicts of interests regarding the published manuscript.

DOI: 10.4103/2211-4122.117982

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Objective: Respect of "appropriateness" is considered an essential requirement, both on the clinical and the economic profile, and also as it helps to shorten the waiting list. However, only a few studies have dealt with the control of appropriateness in clinical practice, and most of them have focused only on hospital admissions and invasive procedures. Materials and Methods: INDICARD-out is a prospective, multicenter study carried out by A.R.C.A. (Associazioni Regionali Cardiologi Ambulatoriali) cardiologists from 13 Italian Regions, providing information on indications, utility and appropriateness of echocardiography in outpatient cardiology. Results: A total of 2110 prescriptions for echocardiogram were evaluated. Hypertension (23%) and the screening of asymptomatic subjects (17%) by far were the most frequent indications to echocardiography. Overall, 54% of the tests resulted appropriate, 30% were of uncertain appropriateness and 16% were inappropriate. Besides, 31% of the echocardiograms were not useful, and 28% were non pertinent for patient management. The vast majority of prescriptions (72%) came from non-cardiologist physicians (54% from general practitioners). The echocardiograms prescribed by cardiologists were significantly more appropriate, more useful and more pertinent than the tests prescribed by non-cardiologists. Conclusions: The appropriateness, utility and pertinence of the echocardiography are still suboptimal in practice cardiology, especially when indicated by non-cardiologists. The cardiologist, from mere executor of tests prescribed and managed by other physicians, should gain the role of the clinician who takes care of all the cardiologic needs of the patient community.

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