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OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of using an objective scoring method to audit cardiac images obtained as part of the routine 21-23-week anomaly scan. METHODS: A prospective audit and re-audit (6 months later) were conducted on cardiac images obtained by sonographers during the routine anomaly scan. A new image-scoring method was devised based on expected features in the four-chamber and outflow tract views. For each patient, scores were awarded for documentation and quality of individual views. These were called 'Documentation Scores' and 'View Scores' and were added to give a 'Patient Score' which represented the quality of screening provided by the sonographer for that particular patient (maximum score, 15). In order to assess the overall performance of sonographers, an 'Audit Score' was calculated for each by averaging his or her Patient Scores. In addition, to assess each sonographer's performance in relation to particular aspects of the various views, each was given their own 'Sonographer View Scores', derived from image documentation and details of four-chamber view (magnification, valve offset and septum) and left and right outflow tract views. All images were scored by two reviewers, jointly in the primary audit and independently in the re-audit. The scores from primary and re-audit were compared to assess the impact of feedback from the primary audit. RESULTS: Eight sonographers participated in the study. The median Audit Score increased significantly (P < 0.01), from 10.8 (range, 9.8-12.4) in the primary audit to 12.4 (range, 10.4-13.6) in the re-audit. Scores allocated by the two reviewers in the re-audit were not significantly different (P = 0.08). CONCLUSION: Objective scoring of fetal heart images is feasible and has a positive impact on the quality of cardiac images acquired at the time of the routine anomaly scan. This audit tool has the potential to be applied in every obstetric scanning unit and may improve the effectiveness of screening for congenital heart defects.

Original publication




Journal article


Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol

Publication Date





545 - 551


Adult, Body Mass Index, Clinical Competence, Echocardiography, Feasibility Studies, Female, Fetal Development, Fetal Heart, Heart Defects, Congenital, Humans, Medical Audit, Nuchal Translucency Measurement, Practice Guidelines as Topic, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Trimester, Second, Prospective Studies, Quality Assurance, Health Care