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A bedside clinical prediction rule for detecting moderate or severe aortic stenosis


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a bedside clinical prediction rule for detecting moderate or severe aortic stenosis.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study with independent comparison to a diagnostic reference standard, doppler echocardiography.

SETTING: Urban university hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Consecutive hospital inpatients (n=124) who had been referred for echocardiography.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Participants were examined by a third-year general internal medicine resident and a staff general internist. We hypothesized in advance that absence of a murmur over the right clavicle would rule out aortic stenosis, while the presence of three or four associated findings (slow carotid artery upstroke, reduced carotid artery volume, maximal murmur intensity at the second right intercostal space, and reduced intensity of the second heart sound) would rule in aortic stenosis. Study physicians were unaware of echocardiographic findings. The outcome was echocardiographic moderate or severe aortic stenosis, defined as a valve area of 1.2 cm2 or less, or a peak instantaneous gradient of 25 mm Hg or greater. Absence of a murmur over the right clavicle ruled out aortic stenosis (likelihood ratio [LR] 0.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.01, 0.44). The presence of three or four associated findings ruled in aortic stenosis (LR 40; 95% CI 6.6, 240). If a murmur was present over the right clavicle, but no more than two associated findings were present, then the examination was indeterminate (LR 1.8; 95% CI 0.93, 2.9).

CONCLUSION: A clinical prediction rule, using simple bedside maneuvers, accurately ruled in and ruled out aortic stenosis.

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Correspondence to Edward Etchells MD, MSc.

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Etchells, E., Glenns, V., Shadowitz, S. et al. A bedside clinical prediction rule for detecting moderate or severe aortic stenosis. J GEN INTERN MED 13, 699–704 (1998).

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Key words

  • physical examination
  • heart murmurs
  • reliability of results