Variability in Interpretation of Cardiac Standstill Among Physician Sonographers

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Study objectiveCardiac standstill on point-of-care ultrasonography has been widely studied as a marker of prognosis in cardiac arrest. Return of spontaneous circulation has been reported in as few as 0% and as many as 45% of patients with cardiac standstill. When explicitly documented, the definition of cardiac activity in these studies varied from any slight change in echogenicity of the myocardium to any kinetic cardiac activity. We hypothesize that the variability in research definitions of cardiac activity may affect interpretation of video clips of patients in cardiac arrest. The goal of this study is to assess the variability in interpretation of standstill among physician sonographers.MethodsWe surveyed physician sonographers at 6 conferences held at 3 academic medical centers in the Greater New York area. Survey respondents were allotted 20 seconds per slide to determine whether each of 15 video clips of patients in cardiac arrest were standstill or not. Data were collected anonymously with radio frequency remotes.ResultsThere were 127 total participants, including faculty, fellows, and resident physicians specializing in emergency medicine, critical care, and cardiology. There was only moderate interrater agreement among all participants (α=0.47). This lack of agreement persisted across specialties, self-reported training levels, and self-reported ultrasonographic expertise.ConclusionAccording to the results of our study, there appears to be considerable variability in interpretation of cardiac standstill among physician sonographers. Consensus definitions of cardiac activity and standstill would improve the quality of cardiac arrest ultrasonographic research and standardize the use of this technology at the bedside.

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