DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.14599 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 14599: A Pilot Rheumatic Heart Disease Screening Program Using Portable, Handheld Echocardiography in Rivas, Nicaragua

Sugi Min, Bryan Carrillo, Kimberly Lopez, René Francisco Guido, michael yeung, Carlos Espinoza, Matthew Lawlor
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Introduction: Portable, handheld echocardiography offers several advantages for rheumatic heart disease (RHD) screening in low-resource settings. Analyses of focused protocols using handheld echocardiography have yielded acceptable sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of RHD, including in those performed by non-expert sonographers. Previous studies estimate high burden of RHD in Nicaragua. We conducted a pilot community-based RHD screening program using handheld echocardiography in Rivas, Nicaragua using contemporary RHD diagnostic criteria.

Methods: Non-expert sonographers were trained using the GE Vscan Extend TM device and a simplified version of the 2012 World Heart Federation criteria for diagnosis of RHD. Referral criteria for complete echocardiogram included the presence of a mitral regurgitant jet of > 2.0 cm, aortic regurgitant jet > 1.0 cm, or any morphologic abnormality of the mitral or aortic valve, as well as left ventricular dysfunction or significant congenital heart disease. Participants were recruited by convenience-based sampling in communities throughout Rivas, Nicaragua. Participants were notified at the point-of-care of need for complete echocardiogram. All studies were overread asynchronously by expert readers for diagnostic accuracy.

Results: Between March 2022 and April 2023, 494 screening echocardiographic studies were performed and evaluated for diagnostic accuracy. The median age was 36.3 years (IQR 19.2, 56.2), 22% of participants were <18 years of age, and 60% of participants were female. There were 17.6% of participants referred for complete echocardiogram at the point-of-care compared with 13.0% meeting referral criteria on expert review. Negative and positive predictive values for non-expert vs. expert assessment were 92.4% and 62.1%, respectively. Cohen’s kappa for inter-rater reliability was 0.338, suggesting fair agreement.

Conclusions: This pilot program demonstrated the feasibility of a screening program for RHD in rural Nicaragua with non-expert sonographers. Lessons from this program are intended to inform future epidemiological studies to determine the population prevalence and longitudinal outcomes of RHD in this region.

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