Critical Care and Shock

Transthoracic echocardiography findings in critically ill COVID-19 patients

In this issue of Critical Care and Shock, Gerhardy and colleagues present a study that utilized trans-thoracic echocardiography (TTE) and the Yorkshire rehabilitation scale (C19-YRS) in order to examine the correlation between severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) illness and post-discharge cardiac function and symptoms. (1) They found that, with time, the cardiac parameters appreciable by TTE improve with the persistence of cardiopulmonary symptoms characteristic of post-COVID-19 syndrome (PCS) after hospital discharge.

The use of echocardiography for the assessment of cardiac function in COVID-19 patients has garnered significant attention in the past couple of years, with numerous studies highlighting its potential impact during the pandemic. (2-7) Access to commonly used imaging tools, like computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, was severely restricted because of decontamination clean-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic. (8) As a result, many institutions reduced the number of unnecessary imaging due to the associated scheduling, risks of contamination, and financial obstacles. In response, the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) adapted its guidelines for COVID-19 patients in 2020, placing emphasis on protective measures and equipment decontamination, highlighting the benefits of minimizing transport of patients to the imaging room in favor of bedside exams reducing contact with healthcare workers and other patients. (9) For this reason, the use of bedside echocardiogram provided an alternative method of evaluating cardiac abnormalities in COVID-19 patients.

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