A study at Children's Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., finds use of telemedicine enabled earlier diagnosis and treatment of potentially serious pediatric heart conditions.

Researchers reviewed 1,285 pediatric echocardiograms performed at St. John's Medical Center in Joplin and transmitted to the children's hospital 160 miles away for interpretation between April 1998 and October 2009. Of the 905 echocardiograms that were first-time studies, 99 percent were judged by the interpreting cardiologist to be complete and adequate in quality.

Nearly 74 percent of test results were normal. A majority of the other children underwent further evaluation during monthly cardiologist visits to Joplin, although some were transferred to the children's hospital. Major abnormalities were found in 13 of the children.

The studies initially were transmitted via videotape through an integrated services digital network and later via digital studies sent over the Internet.

The study concludes that the availability of telemedicine service provides an alternative to long travel times and unnecessary transfers to a tertiary referral center. "Telemedicine echocardiography also allowed for early diagnosis and initiation of treatment prior to transport when necessary."

For an abstract of the study, send e-mail to joseph.goedert@sourcemedia.com.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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