Targeted echocardiographic assessments of haemodynamic status are increasingly utilised in many settings. Application in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) is increasingly demanded but challenging given the risk of underlying structural lesions. This statement follows discussions in UK led by the Neonatologists with an Interest in Cardiology and Haemodynamics (NICHe) group in collaboration with the British Congenital Cardiac Association (BCCA) and the Paediatricians with Expertise in Cardiology Special Interest Group (PECSIG). Clear consensus was agreed on multiple aspects of best practice for neonatologist-performed echocardiogram (NoPE)—rigorous attention to infection control and cardiorespiratory/thermal stability, early referral to paediatric cardiology with suspicion of structural disease, reporting on standardised templates, reliable image storage, regular skills maintenance, collaboration with a designated paediatric cardiologist, and regular scan audit/review. It was agreed that NoPE assessments should confidently exclude structural lesions at first scan. Practitioners would be expected to screen and establish gross normality of structure at first scan and obtain confirmation from paediatric cardiologist if required, and subsequently, functional echocardiography can be performed for haemodynamic assessment to guide management of newborn babies. To achieve training, NICHe group suggested that mandatory placements could be undertaken during core registrar training or neonatal subspecialty grid training with a paediatric cardiology placement for 6 months and a neonatology placement for a minimum of 6 months. In the future, we hope to define a precise curriculum for assessments. Technological advances may provide solutions—improvements in telemedicine may have neonatologists assessing haemodynamic status with paediatric cardiologists excluding structural lesions and neonatal echocardiography simulators could increase exposure to multiple pathologies and allow limitless practice in image acquisition.
Conclusion: We propose developing training places in specialist paediatric cardiology centres and neonatal units to facilitate training and suggest all UK practitioners performing neonatologist-performed echocardiogram adopt this current best practice statement. What is Known: • Neonatologist-performed echocardiogram (NoPE) also known as targeted neonatal echocardiography (TNE) or functional ECHO is increasingly recognised and utilised in care of sick newborn and premature babies. • There are differences in training for echocardiography across continents and formal accreditation processes are lacking. What is New: • This is the first document of consensus best practice statement for training of neonatologists in neonatologist-performed echocardiogram (NoPE), jointly drafted by Neonatologists with interest in cardiology & haemodynamics (NICHe), paediatric cardiology and paediatricians with expertise in cardiology interest groups in UK. • Key elements of a code of practice for neonatologist-performed echocardiogram are suggested.