Simulation for competency assessment in vascular and cardiac ultrasound

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Abstract

Healthcare providers who use peripheral vascular and cardiac ultrasound require specialized training to develop the technical and interpretive skills necessary to perform accurate diagnostic tests. Assessment of competence is a critical component of training that documents a learner’s progress and is a requirement for competency-based medical education (CBME) as well as specialty certification or credentialing. The use of simulation for CBME in diagnostic ultrasound is particularly appealing since it incorporates both the psychomotor and cognitive domains while eliminating dependency on the availability of live patients with a range of pathology. However, successful application of simulation in this setting requires realistic, full-featured simulators and appropriate standardized metrics for competency testing. The principal diagnostic parameter in peripheral vascular ultrasound is measurement of peak systolic velocity (PSV) on Doppler spectral waveforms, and simulation of Doppler flow detection presents unique challenges. The computer-based duplex ultrasound simulator developed at the University of Washington uses computational fluid dynamics modeling and presents real-time color-flow Doppler images and Doppler spectral waveforms along with the corresponding B-mode images. This simulator provides a realistic scanning experience that includes measuring PSV in various arterial segments and applying actual diagnostic criteria. Simulators for echocardiography have been available since the 1990s and are currently more advanced than those for peripheral vascular ultrasound. Echocardiography simulators are now offered for both transesophageal echo and transthoracic echo. These computer-based simulators have 3D graphic displays that provide feedback to the learner and metrics for assessment of technical skill that are based on transducer tracking data. Such metrics provide a motion-based or kinematic analysis of skill in performing cardiac ultrasound. The use of simulation in peripheral vascular and cardiac ultrasound can provide a standardized and readily available method for training and competency assessment.

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