New ASE Guideline on Interventional Echocardiography Training

The guideline outlines requirements of the training institution, the duration and core competencies of training, minimal procedural volume for competency in IE, and knowledge of specific structural health disease (SHD) procedures.

The 16-page guideline was published online February 23 in the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography.

Specific Skill Set
IE is the primary imaging modality used to support and guide SHD interventions, such as heart valve replacements and other cardiac catheterization procedures, the writing group notes.

They say the "emerging specialty" of IE requires a specific set of skills to support an array of transcatheter therapies, with successful outcomes highly dependent on the skill of the echocardiography team.

"IE techniques are unique since imaging is performed in real-time, it is highly dependent on 3D and non-standard views, and it has immediate and profound implications for patient management," Stephen H. Little, MD, ASE president and co-chair of the guideline writing group, says in a news release.

"Additionally, IE requires candid, accurate and timely communication with other members of the multidisciplinary SHD team," Little adds.

The new ASE guideline expands on the 2019 statement on echocardiography training put forward by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and ASE by focusing specifically on interventional echocardiographers.

It outlines core competencies common to all transcatheter therapies, as well as specific transcatheter procedures. It provides consensus recommendations for specific knowledge, experience, and skills to be learned and demonstrated within an IE training program or during postgraduate training.

A "core principle" in the guideline states that the length of IE training or achieved number of procedures performed are less important than the demonstration of procedure-specific competencies within the milestone domains of knowledge, skill, and communication.

"Transcatheter therapies for SHD continue to grow at a rapid pace, which means that the demand for skilled interventional echocardiographers has steadily increased," Vera H. Rigolin, MD, co-chair of the guideline writing, says in the release.

"Training standards are needed to ensure that interventional echocardiographers have the necessary expertise to provide fast, accurate and high-quality image acquisition and interpretation in real-time," Rigolin adds.

In addition, the guidelines states that use of simulation training has a role in IE training.

Virtual and simulation training could shorten the learning curve for trainees and, when combined with remote learning, could permit societies to standardize a teaching curriculum and allow the trainee to complete training in a reasonable timeframe. Simulator training may also improve access to training and thus promote diversity and inclusivity, the writing group says.

The guideline has been endorsed by 21 ASE international partners.