Reports From the Field

Decreasing Overutilization of Echocardiograms and Abdominal Imaging in the Evaluation of Children with Fungemia



From the University of Miami, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Medicine, Miami, FL.


  • Objective: Pediatric fungemia is associated with a low risk of fungal endocarditis and renal infections. The majority of current guidelines do not recommend routine abdominal imaging/echocardiograms in the evaluation of fungemia, but such imaging has been routinely ordered for patients on the pediatric gastroenterology service at our institution. Our goals were to assess the financial impact of this deviation from current clinical guidelines and redefine the standard work to reduce overutilization of abdominal ultrasounds and echocardiograms. Specifically, our goal was to reduce imaging by 50% by 18 months.
  • Methods: Root cause analysis showed a lack of familiarity with current evidence. Using this data, countermeasures were implemented, including practitioner education of guidelines and creation of a readily accessible clinical pathway and an electronic order set for pediatric fungemia management. Balancing measures were missed episodes of fungal endocarditis and renal infection.
  • Results: During the period January 1, 2016 to November 19, 2017, 18 of 21 episodes of fungemia in our pediatric institution occurred in patients admitted to the pediatric gastroenterology service. Abdominal imaging and echocardiograms were done 100% of the time, with no positive findings and an estimated cost of approximately $58,000. Post-intervention from November 20, 2017 to April 3, 2019, 7 of 13 episodes of fungemia occurred on this service. Frequency of abdominal imaging and echocardiograms decreased to 43% and 57%, respectively. No episodes of fungal endocarditis or renal infection were identified.
  • Conclusion: Overutilization of abdominal imaging and echocardiograms in pediatric fungemia evaluation can be safely decreased.

Keywords: guidelines; cost; candidemia; endocarditis.

Practitioners may remain under the impression that routine abdominal ultrasounds (US) and echocardiograms (echo) are indicated in fungemia to evaluate for fungal endocarditis and renal infection, although these conditions are rare and limited to a subset of the population.1-10 Risk factors include prematurity, immunosuppression, prior bacterial endocarditis, abnormal cardiac valves, and previous urogenital surgeries.11

The 2016 Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines do not recommend routine US or echo but rather provide scenarios in which Candida endocarditis should be suspected, and these include: persistently positive blood cultures, persistent fevers despite appropriate therapy, and clinical signs that may suggest endocarditis, such as a new heart murmur, heart failure, or embolic phenomena.11 IDSA recommends abdominal imaging in neonates with persistently positive blood cultures to evaluate the urogenital system, in addition to the liver and spleen. They also recommend abdominal imaging in symptomatic ascending Candida pyelonephritis beyond the neonatal period and in chronic disseminated candidiasis; the latter is uncommon and seen almost exclusively in patients recovering from neutropenia with a hematologic malignancy.11

We also reviewed guidelines on fungemia originating outside the United States. The 2010 Canadian clinical guidelines on invasive candidiasis do not explicitly recommend routine imaging, but rather state that various imaging studies, including US and echo among others, may be helpful.12 The German Speaking Mycological Society and the Paul-Ehrlich-Society for Chemotherapy published a joint recommendation against routine US and echo in uncomplicated candidemia in 2011.13

The European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases is the only society that recommends routine echo. Their 2012 guidelines on candidiasis recommend transesophageal echo in adults14 and echocardiography in children,15 as well as abdominal imaging in the diagnosis of chronic disseminated candidiasis in adults with hematological malignancies/hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.16


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