The goal of the EACVI Scientific Initiatives Committee is to have a global view of what is going on among European countries with regard to guidelines implementation, management of patients needing imaging, and the use of imaging in daily clinical practice. This is done mainly through short EACVI Research Network centres’ surveys, snapshot registries or patient surveys.
Results and full articles from the surveys
Current clinical use of speckle-tracking strain imaging: insights from a worldwide survey from the EACVI (July 2023)
Speckle-tracking echocardiography (STE) strain imaging has been a major advancement in myocardial function quantification. We aimed to explore current worldwide clinical application of STE.
Access, feasibility, access, and clinical implementation of STE were investigated with a worldwide open-access online survey of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging. Participants (429 respondents and 77 countries) from tertiary centres (46%), private clinics, or public hospitals (54%) using different vendors for data acquisition and analysis were represented. Despite almost universal access (98%) to STE, only 39% of the participants performed and reported STE results frequently (>50%). Incomplete training and time constraints were the main reasons for not using STE more regularly. STE was mainly used to assess the LV (99%) and less frequently the right ventricular (57%) and the left atrial (46%) function. Cardiotoxicity (88%) and cardiac amyloidosis (87%) were the most frequent reasons for the clinical use of LV STE. Left atrial STE was used most frequently for the diagnosis of diastolic dysfunction and right ventricular STE for the assessment of right ventricle (RV) function in pulmonary hypertension (51%). Frequency of STE use, adherence to optimal techniques, and clinical appropriateness of STE differed according to training experience and across vendors. Key suggestions outlined by respondents to increase the clinical use of STE included improved reproducibility (48%) and standardisation of strain values across vendors (42%).
Although STE is now readily available, it is under utilised in the majority of centers. Structured training, improved reproducibility, and inter-vendor standardisation may increase its uptake.
Women in cardiovascular imaging: a call for action to address ongoing challenges (July 2023)
The EACVI Scientific Initiatives Committee and the EACVI women’s taskforce conducted a global survey to evaluate the barriers faced by women in cardiovascular imaging (WICVi).
In a prospective international survey, we assessed the barriers faced at work by WICVi. Three hundred fourteen participants from 53 countries responded. The majority were married (77%) and had children (68%), but most reported no flexibility in their work schedule during their pregnancy or after their maternity leave. More than half of the women reported experiencing unconscious bias (68%), verbal harassment (59%), conscious bias (51%), anxiety (70%), lack of motivation (60%), imposter syndrome (54%), and burnout (61%) at work. Furthermore, one in five respondents had experienced sexual harassment, although this was rarely reported formally. The majority reported availability of mentorship (73%), which was mostly rated as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. While more than two-thirds of respondents (69%) now reported being well trained and qualified to take on leadership roles in their departments, only one-third had been afforded that opportunity. Despite the issues highlighted by this survey, >80% of the participating WICVi would still choose cardiovascular imaging if they could restart their career.
The survey has highlighted important issues faced by WICVi. While progress has been made in areas such as mentorship and training, other issues including bullying, bias, and sexual harassment are still widely prevalent requiring urgent action by the global cardiovascular imaging community to collectively address and resolve these challenges.
EACVI survey on the multi-modality imaging assessment of the right heart (September 2022)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a global survey to evaluate the use of different cardiac imaging modalities for the evaluation of the right heart.
Delegates from 250 EACVI registered centres were invited to participate in a survey which was also advertised on the EACVI bulletin and on social media. One hundred and thirty-eight respondents from 46 countries across the world responded to the survey. Most respondents worked in tertiary centres (79%) and echocardiography was reported as the commonest imaging modality used to assess the right ventricle (RV). The majority of survey participants (78%) included RV size and function in >90% of their echocardiographic reports. The RV basal diameter obtained from the apical four-chamber view and the tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion were the commonest parameters used for the echocardiographic assessment of RV size and function as reported by 82 and 97% respondents, respectively. Survey participants reported arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy as the commonest condition (88%) where cardiac magentic resonance (CMR) imaging was used for right heart assessment. Only 52% respondents included RV volumetric and ejection fraction assessments routinely in their CMR reports, while 30% of respondents included these parameters only when RV pathology was suspected. Finally, 73% of the respondents reported pulmonary hypertension as the commonest condition where right heart catheterisation was performed.
Echocardiography remains the most frequently used imaging modality for the evaluation of the right heart, while the use of other imaging techniques, most notably CMR, is increasing.
EACVI survey on burnout amongst cardiac imaging specialists during the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (December 2021)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging Scientific Initiatives Committee conducted a global survey to evaluate the impact of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the mental well-being of cardiac imaging specialists.
Methods and results
In a prospective international survey performed between 23 July 2021 and 31 August 2021, we assessed the mental well-being of cardiac imaging specialists ∼18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. One-hundred-and-twenty-five cardiac imaging specialists from 34 countries responded to the survey. More than half described feeling anxious during the pandemic, 34% felt melancholic, 27% felt fearful, and 23% respondents felt lonely. A quarter of respondents had increased their alcohol intake and more than half reported difficulties in sleeping. Two-thirds of respondents described worsening features of burnout during the past 18 months, 44% considered quitting their job. One in twenty respondents had experienced suicidal ideation during the pandemic. Despite these important issues, the majority of participants (57%) reported having no access to any formal mental health support at work.
The survey has highlighted important issues regarding the mental well-being of cardiac imaging specialists during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a major issue in our sub-specialty, which requires urgent action and prioritization so that we can improve the mental health of cardiovascular imaging specialists.
EACVI survey on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (December 2021)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a global survey to evaluate current practice for the assessment and management of patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
Methods and results
A total of 213 centres from 38 different countries (87% European) responded to the survey. One hundred twenty-one (57%) centres followed HCM patients in a general cardiology outpatient clinic and 85 (40%) centres in a specialised HCM/cardiomyopathy clinic. While echocardiography was the primary imaging modality, cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) has become an important complementary tool. Cardiac anatomy, left ventricular (LV) systolic, and diastolic function were assessed according to current European guidelines and recommendations. To evaluate LV obstruction, 49% of the centres performed bedside provocation manoeuvres in every patient and 55% of the centres used exercise stress echocardiography. The majority of centres used the 5-year risk assessment of sudden cardiac death (SCD) calculated with the HCM Risk-SCD score. However, 34% of the centres also used extensive non-infarct late gadolinium enhancement on CMR and 27% the presence of LV apical aneurysm to help select patients for primary prevention implantable cardioverter-defibrillator therapy. Ninety-nine percent of the responding centres performed regular imaging follow-up of HCM patients.
Most centres followed European guidelines and recommendations for the diagnosis and management of patients with HCM. The importance of bedside provocation manoeuvres and exercise stress echocardiography to diagnose LV outflow obstruction requires emphasis. Additional risk markers for SCD are used in many centres and might indicate the need for an update of current European recommendations.
EACVI survey on the evaluation of left ventricular diastolic function (May 2021)
The aim of this study is to analyse how current recommendations on left ventricular (LV) diastolic function assessment have been adopted. Identifying potential discrepancies between recommendations and everyday clinical practice would enable us to better understand and address the remaining challenges in this controversial and complex field.
Methods and results
A total of 93 centres, mainly from tertiary care settings, responded to the survey. More than three-quarters (77%) of centres follow the 2016 ASE/EACVI recommendations for LV diastolic function evaluation in patients with preserved ejection fraction based upon e′, E/e′, tricuspid regurgitation velocity, and left atrial (LA) volume. These recommendations were generally preferred to the previous 2009 version. Many centres also consider strain assessments in the LV (48%) and left atrium (53%) as well as diastolic stress echocardiography (33%) to be useful as additional assessments of LV diastolic function. Echocardiographic assessments of LV diastolic function were used frequently to guide therapy in 72% of centres.
There is widespread adoption of current recommendation on the evaluation of LV diastolic function and these are frequently used to guide patient management. Many centres now also consider LV and LA strain assessments useful in the clinical assessment of diastolic function. These may be considered in future recommendations.
EACVI survey on the management of patients with patent foramen ovale and cryptogenic stroke (December 2020)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a global survey to evaluate the current practice for the assessment and management of patients with suspected patent foramen ovale (PFO) and cryptogenic stroke.
Methods and results
In total, 79 imaging centres from 34 countries across the world responded to the survey, which comprised 17 questions. Most non-invasive investigations for PFO were widely available in the responding centres, with the exception of transcranial colour Doppler which was only available in 70% of sites, and most commonly performed by neurologists. Standard transthoracic echocardiography, with or without bubbles, was considered the first-level test for suspected PFO in the majority of the centres, whereas transoesophageal echocardiography was an excellent second-level modality. Most centres would rule out atrial fibrillation (AF) as a source of embolism in all patients with cryptogenic stroke (63%), with the remainder reserving investigation for patients with multiple AF risk factors (33%). Cardiac magnetic resonance was the preferred tool for identifying other unusual aetiologies, like cardiac masses or thrombi. After PFO closure, there was variation in the use of antiplatelet therapy: a quarter recommended treatment for life, while only 12% recommended 5 years as stipulated in the guidelines (12%). Antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental or endoscopic procedures was not recommended in 41% of centres, contrary to what the guidelines recommended.
Our survey revealed a variable adherence to the current recommendations for the diagnosis and management of patients with cryptogenic stroke and PFO. Efforts should focus on optimizing and standardizing diagnostic tests and treatment of this condition.
EACVI survey on investigations and imaging modalities in chronic coronary syndromes (November 2020)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a global survey to evaluate current practice for the assessment and management of patients with suspected and confirmed chronic coronary syndromes.
Methods and results
One-hundred and ten imaging centres from 37 countries across the world responded to the survey. Most non-invasive investigations for coronary artery disease were widely available, except cardiovascular magnetic resonance (available 40% centres). Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) and nuclear scans were reported by a multi-disciplinary team in only a quarter of centres. In the initial assessment of patients presenting with chest pain, only 32% of respondents indicated that they rely on pre-test probability for selecting the optimal imaging test while 31% proceed directly to CCTA. In patients with established coronary artery disease and recurrent chest pain, respondents opted for stress echocardiography (27%) and nuclear stress perfusion scans (26%). In asymptomatic patients with coronary artery disease and an obstructive (>70%) right coronary artery stenosis, 58% of respondents were happy to pursue medical therapy without further testing or intervention. This proportion fell to 29% with left anterior descending artery stenosis and 1% with left main stem obstruction. In asymptomatic patients with evidence of moderate-to-severe myocardial ischaemia (15%), only 18% of respondents would continue medical therapy without further investigation.
Despite guidelines recommendations pre-test probability is used to assess patients with suspected coronary artery in a minority of centres, one-third of centres moving directly to CCTA. Clinicians remain reticent to pursue a strategy of optimal medical therapy without further investigation or intervention in patients with controlled symptoms but obstructive coronary artery stenoses or myocardial ischaemia.
Global evaluation of echocardiography in patients with COVID-19 (June 2020)
To describe the cardiac abnormalities in patients with COVID-19 and identify the characteristics of patients who would benefit most from echocardiography.
Methods and results
In a prospective international survey, we captured echocardiography findings in patients with presumed or confirmed COVID-19 between 3 and 20 April 2020. Patient characteristics, indications, findings, and impact of echocardiography on management were recorded. Multivariable logistic regression identified predictors of echocardiographic abnormalities. A total of 1216 patients [62 (52–71) years, 70% male] from 69 countries across six continents were included. Overall, 667 (55%) patients had an abnormal echocardiogram. Left and right ventricular abnormalities were reported in 479 (39%) and 397 (33%) patients, respectively, with evidence of new myocardial infarction in 36 (3%), myocarditis in 35 (3%), and takotsubo cardiomyopathy in 19 (2%). Severe cardiac disease (severe ventricular dysfunction or tamponade) was observed in 182 (15%) patients. In those without pre-existing cardiac disease (n = 901), the echocardiogram was abnormal in 46%, and 13% had severe disease. Independent predictors of left and right ventricular abnormalities were distinct, including elevated natriuretic peptides [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75–5.05) and cardiac troponin (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.13–2.53) for the former, and severity of COVID-19 symptoms (OR 3.19, 95% CI 1.73–6.10) for the latter. Echocardiography changed management in 33% of patients.
In this global survey, cardiac abnormalities were observed in half of all COVID-19 patients undergoing echocardiography. Abnormalities were often unheralded or severe, and imaging changed management in one-third of patients.
The EACVI survey on cardiac imaging in cardio-oncology (May 2020)
Early and late cardiovascular (CV) toxicities related to many cancer treatments may complicate the clinical course of patients, offsetting therapeutic benefits, and altering prognosis. The early detection, monitoring, and treatment of cardiotoxicity have therefore become essential parts of cancer patient care. CV imaging is a cornerstone of every cardio-oncology unit, but its use may vary across Europe because of the non-uniform availability of advanced imaging techniques and differences in the organization and logistics of cardio-oncology services.
The purpose of this EACVI survey in cardio-oncology is to obtain real-world data on the current usage of cardiac imaging in cancer patients. Data from 104 centres and 35 different countries confirmed that cardiac imaging plays a pivotal role in the detection and monitoring of cardiac toxicity in oncology patients in Europe and beyond. However, it also revealed gaps between guidelines recommendations and everyday clinical practice, highlighting some of the challenges that need to be overcome in this rapidly advancing field.
EACVI survey on the evaluation of infective endocarditis (May 2020)
To evaluate the diagnosis and imaging of patients with suspected endocarditis and the management in routine clinical practice across Europe, the EACVI Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a survey across European centres. In particular, the routine use of echocardiography, advanced imaging modalities and multidisciplinary team was explored.
Methods and results
A total of 100 European Echocardiography Laboratories from 29 different countries responded to the survey, which consisted of 20 questions. For most of the use of echocardiography and advanced imaging, answers from the centres were relatively homogeneous and demonstrated good adherence to current recommendations. In particular, two-thirds of centres report the use of a specific endocarditis team for decision-making. Echocardiography plays a key role in the diagnosis and management of endocarditis. Nuclear imaging modalities are broadly available among the centres and are mainly used in prosthetic valve endocarditis and cardiac device-related infective endocarditis. Computed tomography (CT) is widely available and used to assess for structural valve abnormalities, neurological complications, and to preoperative assessment of the coronary arteries. Most institutions provide structured patients follow-up following hospital discharge.
In Europe, a relatively homogenous adherence to current recommendation was observed for most diagnostic and management including the follow-up of patients with endocarditis. Decision-making is most commonly performed by a multidisciplinary team. Echocardiography remains the first line and central imaging modality for patient diagnosis and assessment, but 60% of centres also commonly use CT, whilst positron emission tomography imaging is used in patients with prosthetic valve endocarditis or device infection.
The evaluation of aortic stenosis, how the new guidelines are implemented across Europe (March 2020)
Aortic stenosis (AS) is the most prevalent valvular disease in developed countries, with a prevalence that is set to expand further with an ageing population. The most recent guidelines on valvular heart disease published by the European Society of Cardiology and the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, aim to standardise the diagnosis and management of valvular heart diseases. The imaging criteria of the current guidelines are mostly based on EACVI Recommendations, with an appropriate diagnostic workflow being of major importance, to ensure streamlined and efficient patient assessment and accurate diagnoses and decisions regarding the timing of surgery.
The EACVI Scientific Initiatives Committee, therefore, created a survey on the imaging assessment of patient with AS to investigate the diagnostic patient pathways used in different centres across Europe. In particular, we conducted this survey to better understand the use and access of advanced imaging techniques in AS including 3D transthoracic echocardiography and 3D transoesophageal echocardiography, cardiac computed tomography, and cardiovascular magnetic resonance.
EACVI survey on standardisation of cardiac chambers quantification by transthoracic echocardiography (December 2019)
To evaluate standard reporting of cardiac chambers size and function by transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), the EACVI Scientific Initiatives Committee performed a survey across European centres. In particular, the routine use of three-dimensional echocardiography (3DE) and speckle tracking-derived myocardial deformation imaging (STE) was explored.
Methods and results
A total of 96 European Echocardiography Laboratories from 22 different countries responded to the survey, which consisted of 20 questions. For most of the standard parameters of cardiac chamber size and function, answers from the centres were homogeneous and demonstrated good adherence to current recommendations. In particular, all centres assessed left ventricular (LV) and left atrial (LA) size combining diameter measurements with volumes obtained using the bi-plane Simpson’s method. More variability was observed in the measurements of the right heart chambers and thoracic aorta. Interestingly, >90% of centres had access to 3DE and STE; however, the large majority of centres reserved the use of these techniques for selected cases, particularly for the measure of 3D LV volumes and ejection fraction and global longitudinal strain in patients being considered for cardiac device implantation, surgical intervention (valvular heart disease) or screened for cardiotoxicity. Only 10% of centres used 3DE for right ventricular and LA volumes. Also, <30% of the centres used LA strain imaging.
In Europe, a good adherence to current recommendations was observed for most of the standard parameters of cardiac chambers quantification by TTE. Advanced echocardiography modalities, such as 3DE and STE, are widely available but used only in selected cases.
EACVI survey on multimodality training in ESC countries (September 2019)
One of the missions of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) is ‘to promote excellence in clinical diagnosis, research, technical development, and education in cardiovascular imaging’. The future of imaging involves multimodality so each imager should have the incentive and the possibility to improve its knowledge in other cardiovascular techniques. This article presents the results of a 20 questions survey carried out in cardiovascular imaging (CVI) centres across Europe. The aim of the survey was to assess the situation of experience and training of CVI in Europe, the availability and organization of modalities in each centre and to ask for vision about potential improvements in CVI at national and European level.
Criteria for surveys: from the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging Scientific Initiatives Committee (July 2019)
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) is committed to maintaining the highest standards of professional excellence in all aspects of cardiovascular imaging. The mission of the EACVI is to promote excellence in clinical diagnosis, research, technical development, and education in cardiovascular imaging with a particular focus on education, training, scientific initiatives, and research. The EACVI established the Scientific Initiatives Committee (SIC) in December 2018. This committee has responsibility for surveys among imagers, patients’ surveys and surveys including data from clinical practice. The current document describes the aims of the EACVI SIC and the creation of the international EACVI survey network. This document summarizes the EACVI's standards for the survey questions and standards for writing the papers with the results of the surveys. These are in accordance with previous recommendations and were approved by the EACVI SIC and the EACVI Board in 2019.