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Int J Cardiol Heart Vasc. 2018 May 2;19:41-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcha.2018.03.007. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Junior medical student performed focused cardiac ultrasound after brief training to detect significant valvular heart disease.

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Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.



Focused cardiac ultrasound (FOCUS) examination using a portable device is increasingly used for bedside diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. This is a 4-week pilot project aiming to teach medical students to perform FOCUS to detect valvular heart lesions.


Patients undergoing routine transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) were recruited by third year medical students who performed physical examination (PE) and FOCUS after 6-hour training to detect significant (moderate-to-severe) valvular lesions. Performance of FOCUS and PE was compared to TTE as reference using kappa statistics.


10 medical students performed 212 PE and FOCUS on 107 patients with mean age 63.7 ± 14.9 years. TTE detected 126 significant valvular lesions of which FOCUS correctly identified 54 lesions (κ = 0.45) compared to 32 lesions by PE (κ = 0.28, p < 0.01). FOCUS was better than PE in identifying mitral stenosis (κ = 0.51 vs. 0.17), aortic stenosis (κ = 0.45 vs. 0.16) and tricuspid regurgitation (κ = 0.39 vs. 0.09, all p < 0.01). Students became more proficient in performing FOCUS examination with time.


Teaching junior medical students to perform and interpret FOCUS was feasible after brief training and better than PE in detecting significant valvular lesions. Further studies are warranted to determine the utility of incorporating this new technology into mainstream medical training.


ECG, Electrocardiography; Echocardiography; FOCUS, Focused cardiac ultrasound; Focused cardiac ultrasound; LEAP, Limited echo assessment project; Medical education; PE, Physical examination; SSM, Selected student module; TTE, Transthoracic echocardiography; Valvular heart disease; Κ, Kappa

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