Reliability of Echocardiographic Indicators of Pulmonary Vascular Disease in Preterm Infants at Risk for Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

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Abstract

Objectives

To determine the assessment and inter-rater reliability of echocardiographic evaluations of pulmonary vascular disease (PVD) in preterm infants at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Study design

We prospectively studied echocardiograms from preterm infants (birthweights 500-1250 g) at 7 days of age and 36 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA). Echocardiograms were assessed by both a cardiologist on clinical service and a single research cardiologist. Interpretations were reviewed for inclusion of determinants of PVD and assessed for inter-rater reliability using the Prevalence Adjusted Bias Adjusted Kappa Score (PABAK).

Results

One hundred eighty and 188 matching research and clinical echocardiogram reports were available for the 7-day and 36-week PMA studies. At least one of the specific qualitative measures of PVD was missing from 54% of the clinical reports. PVD was diagnosed at 7 days in 31% and 20% of research and clinical interpretations, respectively (PABAK score of 0.54). At 36 weeks, PH was diagnosed in 15.6% and 17.8% of research and clinical interpretations, respectively (PABAK score of 0.80).

Conclusions

Although all qualitative variables of PVD are not consistently provided in echocardiogram reports, the inter-rater reliability of cardiologists evaluating measures of PVD revealed strong agreement, especially at 36 weeks PMA. We speculate that establishment of a protocol for echocardiographic evaluation may improve the identification of PVD in preterm infants.

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