Singh Y, Bhombal S, Katheria A, Tissot C, Fraga MV. The evolution of cardiac point of care ultrasound for the neonatologist. Eur J Pediatr. 2021 Jun 14. doi: 10.1007/s00431-021-04153-5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34125292.
Cardiac point of care ultrasound (POCUS) is increasingly being utilized in neonatal intensive care units to provide information in real time to aid clinical decision making. While training programs and scope of practice have been well defined for other specialties, such as adult critical care and emergency medicine, there is a lack of structure for neonatal cardiac POCUS. A more comprehensive and advanced hemodynamic evaluation by a neonatologist has previously published its own clinical guidelines and specific rigorous training programs have been established to achieve competency in neonatal hemodynamics. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that access and training for basic cardiac assessment by ultrasound enhances bedside clinical care for specific indications. Recently, expert consensus POCUS guidelines for use in neonatal and pediatric intensive care endorsed by the European Society of Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care (ESPNIC) have been published to guide the clinicians in using POCUS for specific indications, though the line between cardiac POCUS and advanced hemodynamic evaluation remains somewhat fluid.Conclusion: This article is focused on neonatal cardiac POCUS and its evolution, value, and limitations in the modern neonatal clinical practice. Cardiac POCUS can provide physiological and hemodynamic information in making clinical decisions while dealing with neonatal emergencies. However, it should be applied only for the specific indications and should be performed by a clinician trained in cardiac POCUS. There is an urgent need of developing cardiac POCUS curriculum and certification to support a widespread and safe use in neonates. What is Known: • International training guidelines and curriculum have been published for neonatologist-performed echocardiography (NPE) or targeted neonatal echocardiography (TNE). • International evidence-based guidelines for use of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) in neonates and children have been recently published. What is New: • Cardiac POCUS is increasingly being incorporated in neonatal practice for emergency situations. However, one must be aware of its specific indications and limitations, especially for the neonatal clinical practice. • Cardiac POCUS and NPE/TNE are continuum of cardiac imaging with different indications and training requirements.