S3 Detection as a Diagnostic and Prognostic Aid in Emergency Department Patients With Acute Dyspnea

Sean P. Collins, W. Frank Peacock, Christopher J. Lindsell, Paul Clopton, Deborah B. Diercks, Brian Hiestand, Chris Hogan, Michael C. Kontos, Christian Mueller, Richard Nowak, Wen Jone Chen, Chien Hua Huang, William T. Abraham, Ezra Amsterdam, Tobias Breidthardt, Lori Daniels, Ayesha Hasan, Mike Hudson, James McCord, Tehmina NazLynne E. Wagoner, Alan Maisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Study objective: Dyspneic emergency department (ED) patients present a diagnostic dilemma. Recent technologic advances have made it possible to capture information about pathologic heart sounds at ECG recording. This study evaluates the effect of an S3 captured by acoustic cardiography on emergency physician diagnostic accuracy and confidence in their diagnosis of acute decompensated heart failure, as well as the patient's prognosis. Methods: Dyspneic ED patients older than 40 years who were not dialysis dependent were prospectively enrolled in this multinational study. Treating emergency physicians, initially blinded to all laboratory and acoustic cardiography results, estimated acute decompensated heart failure probability from 0% to 100% on a visual analog scale. The emergency physician repeated the visual analog scale after acoustic cardiography results were provided. Physician diagnostic accuracy for and confidence in acute decompensated heart failure were evaluated against a reference standard diagnosis, as determined by 2 independent cardiologists blinded to acoustic cardiography. Patients were followed through 90 days to determine the relationship of the S3 to adverse events. Results: Nine hundred ninety-five patients with acoustic cardiography results were enrolled from March to October 2006 at 7 US and 2 international sites. Median age was 63 years, 55% were men, and 44% were white. The reference diagnosis was acute decompensated heart failure in 41.5%. After initial history and physical examination, the treating physician's initial sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for acute decompensated heart failure as a possible diagnosis were 89.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85.5% to 91.8%), 58.2% (95% CI 54.0% to 62.2%), and 71.0% (95% CI 68.4% to 73.8%), respectively. Acoustic cardiography had an accuracy of 68% (95% CI 65.4% to 71.3%), sensitivity of 40.2% (95% CI 35.5% to 45.1%), and specificity of 88.5% (95% CI 85.5% to 90.9%). Emergency physician confidence and diagnostic accuracy were influenced by adding information about the presence or absence of S3. In a multivariable model, the S3 added no independent prognostic information for 30-day (odds ratio 1.20; 95% CI 0.67 to 2.14) or 90-day events (odds ratio 1.22; 95% CI 0.78 to 1.90). Conclusion: In patients presenting with acute dyspnea, the acoustic cardiography S3 was specific for acute decompensated heart failure and affected physician confidence but did not improve diagnostic accuracy for acute decompensated heart failure, largely because of its low sensitivity. Further, the acoustic cardiography S3 provided no significant independent prognostic information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-757
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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