Impact of Simulator-Based Training in Focused Transesophageal Echocardiography: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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BACKGROUND:The aim of the study was to determine if training in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) using a TEE simulator improves the ability of novice operators to perform and interpret a focused critical care TEE.METHODS:In this prospective, randomized, controlled study with blinded outcome assessment, 44 intensive care unit trainees were randomly assigned to a control group receiving 4 hours of lecture-based training only, or an intervention group which was additionally trained for 4 hours using a TEE simulator. After the training intervention, each participant performed 2 TEEs in intensive care unit patients which were evaluated by blinded assessors. The imaging quality of TEEs was measured using a predefined examination quality score ranging from 0 to 100 points. The correct quantification of pathologies and the interpretation of the TEEs were evaluated by blinded assessors using focused and comprehensive expert TEEs as comparators.RESULTS:A total of 114 TEEs were assessed. The mean examination quality score was 55.9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 50.3–61.5) for TEEs of the control group, 75.6 (95% CI, 70.1–81.0) for TEEs of the intervention group, and 88.5 (95% CI, 79.3–97.7) for TEEs in the expert group. The multiple comparisons revealed significant differences between all groups (19.7 [95% CI, 12.8–26.6], P < .001 for intervention versus control; 32.6 [95% CI, 23.0–42.3], P < .001 for expert versus control; 12.9 [95% CI, 3.4–22.5], P = .008 for expert versus intervention). Substantial agreement of the quantification and interpretation ratings of basic TEEs by the intervention (86.7% for quantification and 97.1% for interpretation) or expert group (93.2% for quantification and 98.4% for interpretation) with blinded assessors was detected. The control groups TEEs agreed less (75.6% for quantification and 91.8% for interpretation).CONCLUSIONS:Simulation-based TEE training improves the ability of novice operators to perform a focused critical care TEE in comparison to lecture-based education only. After 8 hours of simulator and lecture-based training, the majority of TEEs of novices are of sufficient quality for clinical use. Furthermore, a substantial skill level in correct quantification and interpretation of imaging is achieved.

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