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Diagnostic accuracy of echocardiography for pulmonary hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Surinder Janda,
  2. Neal Shahidi,
  3. Kenneth Gin,
  4. John Swiston
  1. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Swiston, Division of Respiratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital 2775 Laurel Street, 7th Floor, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada; swiston{at}


Context Right heart catheterisation is the gold standard for the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension. However, echocardiography is frequently used to screen for this disease and monitor progression over time because it is non-invasive, widely available and relatively inexpensive.

Objective To perform a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis to determine the correlation of pulmonary pressures obtained by echocardiography versus right heart catheterisation and to determine the diagnostic accuracy of echocardiography for pulmonary hypertension.

Data sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, PapersFirst, the Cochrane collaboration and the Cochrane Register of controlled trials were searched and were inclusive as of February 2010.

Study selection Studies were only included if a correlation coefficient or the absolute number of true-positive, false-negative, true-negative and false-positive observations was available, and the ‘reference standards’ were described clearly.

Data extraction Two reviewers independently extracted the data from each study. Quality was assessed with the quality assessment for diagnostic accuracy studies. A random effects model was used to obtain a summary correlation coefficient and the bivariate model for diagnostic metaanalysis was used to obtain summary sensitivity and specificity values.

Results 29 studies were included in the meta-analysis. The summary correlation coefficient between systolic pulmonary arterial pressure estimated from echocardiography versus measured by right heart catheterisation was 0.70 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.73; n=27). The summary sensitivity and specificity for echocardiography for diagnosing pulmonary hypertension was 83% (95% CI 73 to 90) and 72% (95% CI 53 to 85; n=12), respectively. The summary diagnostic OR was 13 (95% CI 5 to 31).

Conclusions Echocardiography is a useful and noninvasive modality for initial measurement of pulmonary pressures but due to limitations, right heart catheterisation should be used for diagnosing and monitoring pulmonary hypertension.

  • Diagnosis
  • echocardiography
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • right heart catheterisation
  • screening

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  • Funding JS is supported by the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation's In It for Life Fund as well as an Academic Enhancement Award from the University of British Columbia Department of Medicine.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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