Factors Influencing Pediatric Outpatient Transthoracic Echocardiography Utilization Before Appropriate Use Criteria Release: A Multicenter Study

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Abstract

Background:

Although pediatric appropriate use criteria (AUC) for outpatient transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) are available, little is known about TTE utilization patterns before their release. The aims of this study were to determine the relation between AUC and TTE utilization and to identify patient and physician factors associated with discordance between the AUC and clinical practice.

Methods:

A retrospective review of 3,000 initial outpatient pediatric cardiology encounters at six centers was performed. Investigator-determined indications were classified using AUC definitions. Concordance between AUC and TTE utilization was determined. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify patient and physician factors associated with TTE's being performed for rarely appropriate and TTE's not being performed for appropriate indications.

Results:

Concordance between AUC and TTE utilization was 88%. TTE was performed for rarely appropriate indications in 9% and was associated with patient age < 3 months, indications of murmur, noninvasive imaging physician subspecialty, and physician volume. No TTE was ordered for appropriate indications in 3% and was associated with indications including prior test result (primarily abnormal electrocardiographic findings), older patients, and physician subspecialty other than generalist or imaging. There was high variability in TTE utilization among centers.

Conclusions:

There was a reasonable degree of concordance between AUC and clinical practice before AUC publication. Several patient and physician factors were associated with discordance with the AUC. These findings should be considered in efforts to disseminate the AUC and in the development of future iterations. The causes for variation among centers deserve further exploration.

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