Congenital heart defects (CHD) and their corresponding murmurs, present itself in different intensities and frequencies, making it difficult to diagnose. Early detection is usually paramount for effective and timely intervention.
During a routine patient examination, you have a suspicion that the child has a heart murmur. Is it physiological or pathological? Should you refer the child to a paediatric cardiologist? The uncertainty associated with these questions, and a correct identification of a heart murmur is a common occurrence, making it a subjective decision. Murmur identification takes years to perfect and even trained paediatric cardiologists occasionally get it wrong. Even the identification of systole and diastole becomes a challenge when heart rates are higher, especially in newborns and young children. Add to this other challenges such as high fever, lung and bowel sounds or restlessness, the auscultation effort becomes increasingly difficult and error prone. Further, a decision to refer a child could have financial and emotional implications for the parents. There exists a need to give doctors tools to effectively, and in a cost effective manner, assist them to assess a patient’s heart murmur.
Is there a way to improve the identification of congenital heart defects (CHD) or an easy way to obtain a second opinion? A solution exists, and it is simple, cost effective and uses the same tool that physicians have been using for ages, the stethoscope.
The physician uses various electronic instruments to assist them in making a better diagnosis. Why not for auscultation as well? With the introduction of digital stethoscopes; that look, feel and perform in much the same way as their predecessors, the physician has been given the ability to digitize heart sounds.
A new field in aided diagnosis arrived, called computer-aided diagnosis, with the primary focus to aid the examiner in finding abnormal cardiac activities. This is helpful, especially, when heart rates rise above two beats a second (120bpm).
This has led the team at Diacoustic Medical Devices to create Sensi: a Computer Aided Auscultation (CAA) system to help the physician distinguish between pathological (harmful) and physiological heart murmurs. By using a WelchAllyn digital stethoscope for the routine cardiac auscultation, the heart sounds are digitally captured and analyzed by a computer. A Sensi analysis eliminates any uncertainty regarding the murmur the physician is hearing and gives them immediate confidence in their decision to refer the patient for echocardiography or not.