U.S. Hospital Use of Echocardiography

  • Papolos A
  • Narula J
  • Bavishi C
  • et al.
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Background Increased use of echocardiography (echo) raises questions of whether echo is an overused diagnostic procedure in the United States. Objectives This study investigated national trends, practice patterns, and patient outcomes associated with inpatient echo use reported in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Methods We identified admission diagnoses most commonly associated with echo use and performed multivariate logistic regression within each diagnosis cohort to assess whether echo use was associated with all-cause inpatient mortality. Secondary analysis was performed within our institution to validate use trends identified in the NIS database. Results Between 2001 and 2011, the absolute volume and incidence of echo steadily increased at average annual rates of 3.41% and 3.04%, respectively. In 2010, the use of echo was associated with lower odds of inpatient mortality among hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63 to 0.86; p < 0.001), cardiac dysrhythmia (adjusted OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.55 to 0.94; p = 0.02), acute cerebrovascular disease (adjusted OR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.42; p < 0.001), congestive heart failure (adjusted OR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.72 to 0.94; p = 0.005), and sepsis (adjusted OR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.70 to 0.85; p < 0.001). In 2010, these 5 diagnoses accounted for 3.7 million hospital admissions (9% of all hospitalizations); however, echo was reported in only 8% of cases. Secondary analysis of imaging practices at our institution confirmed underuse of echo among patients who died during hospitalization for indications identified in the NIS database. Conclusions Despite increasing rates of performance, echo may be underused during critical cardiovascular hospitalizations.




Papolos, A., Narula, J., Bavishi, C., Chaudhry, F. A., & Sengupta, P. P. (2016). U.S. Hospital Use of Echocardiography. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 67(5), 502–511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2015.10.090

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