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In resource limited settings, children with cardiac disease present late, have poor outcomes and access to paediatric cardiology programmes is limited. Cardiac point of care ultrasound was introduced at several Médecins Sans Frontières sites to facilitate cardiopulmonary assessment. We describe the spectrum of disease, case management and outcomes of cases reviewed over the Telemedicine platform.
Previously ultrasound naïve, remotely placed clinical teams received ultrasound training on focussed image acquisition. The Médecins Sans Frontières Telemedicine platform was utilised for remote case and imaging review to diagnose congenital and acquired heart disease and guide management supported by a remotely situated paediatric cardiologist.
Two-hundred thirty-three cases were reviewed between 2016 and 2018. Of 191 who underwent focussed cardiac ultrasound, diagnoses included atrial and ventricular septal defects 11%, atrioventricular septal defects 7%, Tetralogy of Fallot 9%, cardiomyopathy/myocarditis 8%, rheumatic heart disease 8%, isolated pericardiac effusion 6%, complex congenital heart disease 4% and multiple other diagnoses in 15%. In 17%, there was no identifiable abnormality while 15% had inadequate imaging to make a diagnosis. Cardiologist involvement led to management changes in 75% of cases with a diagnosis. Mortality in the entire group was disproportionately higher among neonates (38%, 11/29) and infants (20%, 16/81). There was good agreement on independent review of selected cases between two independent paediatric cardiologists.
Cardiac point of care ultrasound performed by remote clinical teams facilitated diagnosis and influenced management in cases reviewed over a Telemedicine platform. This is a feasible method to support clinical care in resource limited settings.
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