Evaluation of a highly abbreviated echocardiography screening protocol for rheumatic heart disease detection

Rapid echo detection of rheumatic heart disease

Rheumatic heart disease is common in school-aged children in Indigenous communities in Northern Australia and in Timor-Leste. It can be present in children who do not have symptoms, but over time can progress to cause severe heart disease and death. Echo (ultrasound) screening has been shown to be effective for the detection of early rheumatic heart disease in children who can then benefit from penicillin injections which prevent progression to severe rheumatic heart disease and death.

Echo screening usually requires full exposure of the chest, which is time consuming and invasive, and makes screening in public settings such as schools challenging. We want to test the reliability of a different approach to screening, using trained healthcare workers to do echo screening with a single view at the centre of the chest, which can be obtained rapidly, without removing clothing. If this is shown to be a reliable way of identifying rheumatic heart disease, it will be possible to screen many more school aged children more efficiently.

We plan to use the findings of this study to establish a strategy for implementing this new rapid approach to screening on a large scale in Northern Australia and in Timor-Leste, enabling detection of many cases of rheumatic heart disease.

  • Dr Joshua Francis

  • Associate Professor Anna Ralph

  • Menzies School of Health Research

  • July 2017 - June 2018

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