Background Historically, echocardiography has been provided by the paediatric cardiologist based at the regional Children's Hospital. There is now a growing need for neonatologist to develop bedside echocardiography skills for cardiac assessment and management of the premature and sick neonate.
Aim To evaluate the echocardiography training opportunity in a tertiary neonatal unit.
Method Information regarding all echocardiograms performed over 3 years (January 2008–December 2010) was collected prospectively.
Results Over a period of 3 years, 1398 echocardiograms were performed on 868 babies. This excluded cardiac outpatient echocardiograms. The commonest reason for requesting an echocardiogram was a murmur on examination. 72% of echocardiograms revealed a structural or functional cardiac abnormality needing appropriate treatment, referral to the paediatric cardiologist or follow-up as necessary. Majority of scans were undertaken by neonatal trainees under direct consultant supervision as shown on table 1. Three neonatal trainees have been trained in echocardiography in the last 3 years.
Conclusion We found that there is ample hands-on training opportunity for career trainee neonatologists to develop their echocardiography skills under direct supervision in tertiary centre. The provision of bedside echocardiography service in a neonatal unit has a high yield for early diagnosis, referral and appropriate therapy. This will improve patient care as well as hopefully reduce the caseload on regional cardiac specialist services.
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