News | November 25, 2014

Mount Sinai Conducts Study Using Echocardiography Technology

Medical students can learn how to use handheld ultrasound technology to improve their physical diagnosis

Ultrasound Technology, cardiovascular ultrasound, Mount Sinai, Medical Students

November 25, 2014 — A new study by researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that training medical students to use a handheld ultrasound device can enhance the accuracy of their physical diagnosis.

The study included a 90-minute, personalized lesson for 64 second-year medical students in how to use handheld echocardiography technology, with a review of a 3-D cardiac anatomy model, video images of normal echocardiograms and the opportunity to test the handheld device on classmates.

The study’s goal was to evaluate a medical student class and observe if a group of novice medical students given this training could employ the technology successfully to achieve more accurate diagnosis of valvular heart disease than 72 of their classmates who received only traditional instruction on how to review medical histories and analyze heart murmur sounds using a stethoscope.

After 136 students in the Cardiac Pathophysiology course took the identical final examination test, results showed that those with the enhanced training in handheld technology were more likely to correctly diagnose valvular heart disease than the students with standard training, 58 percent versus 40 percent, when the students were additionally provided with video of echocardiograms.

The Vscan device used in the study, made by GE Healthcare, is an echocardiography handheld device that permits rapid assessment of cardiac size, structure, function and hemodynamics (blood flow). The device can fit in the hand of the physician and its screen is the size of a smart phone.

In 2012, Mount Sinai’s Class of 2016 became the first class of medical students in New York City, and among the first in the country, to use handheld ultrasound technology to enable them to visually inspect the inside of a patient’s body during a physical exam. Mount Sinai is one of a few medical schools to introduce the technology into the curriculum to enhance clinical skills training of future physicians.

This study was presented at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2014 as Abstract 19020: “Brief Handheld Echocardiography Teaching Improves Diagnosis of Valvular Heart Disease by Medical Students: A Controlled Study in the 2nd Year Cardiovascular Curriculum”.

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