Focused transoesophageal TOE (fTOE): A new accreditation pathway (2023)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Rubino A.; Peck M.; *Miller A.; Edmiston T.; Klein A.A.; Orme R.; Sankar V.; Fletcher N.; O'Keeffe N.; Skinner H.

Journal of the Intensive Care Society. Date of Publication: 2023. [epub ahead of print]

The concept of a focused ultrasound study to identify sources of haemodynamic instability has revolutionized patient care. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) using transthoracic scanning protocols, such as FUSIC Heart, has empowered non-cardiologists to rapidly identify and treat the major causes of haemodynamic instability. There are, however, circumstances when a transoesphageal, rather than transthoracic approach, may be preferrable. Due to the close anatomical proximity between the oesophagus, stomach and heart, a transoesphageal echocardiogram (TOE) can potentially overcome many of the limitations encountered in patients with poor transthoracic ultrasound windows. These are typically patients with severe obesity, chest wall injuries, inability to lie in the left lateral decubitus position and those receiving high levels of positive airway pressure. In 2022, to provide all acute care practitioners with the opportunity to acquire competency in focused TOE, the Intensive Care Society (ICS) and Association of Anaesthetists (AA) launched a new accreditation pathway, known as Focused Transoesophageal Echo (fTOE). The aim of fTOE is to provide the practitioner with the necessary information to identify the aetiology of haemodynamic instability. Focused TOE can be taught in a shorter period of time than comprehensive and teaching programmes are achievable with support from cardiothoracic anaesthetists, intensivists and cardiologists. Registration for fTOE accreditation requires registration via the ICS website. Learning material include theoretical modules, clinical cases and multiple-choice questions. Fifty fTOE examinations are required for the logbook, and these must cover a range of pathology, including ventricular dysfunction, pericardial effusion, tamponade, pleural effusion and low preload. The final practical assessment may be undertaken when the supervisors deem the candidate's knowledge and skills consistent with that required for independent practice. After the practitioner has been accredited in fTOE, they must maintain knowledge and competence through relevant continuing medical education. Accreditation in fTOE represents a joint venture between the ICS and AA and is endorsed by Association of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Critical care (ACTACC). The process is led by TOE experts, and represents a valuable expansion in the armamentarium of acute care practitioners to assess haemodynamically unstable patients.

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