Dr. Raymond Stainback Concludes Transformative Term as ASE President

Texas Heart Institute’s Raymond Stainback, MD, FACC, FASE, recently concluded his term as President of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE). During his tenure, Dr. Stainback championed a key ASE collaboration with other leaders from the National Board of Echocardiography (NBE) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). This has enabled intensivists to become certified in echocardiography, ultimately benefitting patient care.


Dr. Stainback, an expert in echocardiography and Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, has led the ASE for the past year. The ASE is the largest international organization for cardiovascular ultrasound imaging, setting practice standards and guidelines for professionals in the field and advocating for excellence in the use of the imaging technique.


Dr. Stainback has a long history of support for education and quality in cardiovascular imaging, including serving as the Course Director for the Houston Echo Review:  Boot Camp for Echo Board, an annual two-day course designed to prepare cardiovascular specialists for the NBE examinations and offered in cooperation with ASE.


Echocardiography is a specific type of ultrasound imaging— medical imaging that uses sound waves—to noninvasively produce images of the heart. Cardiologists use this method to diagnose problems with the heart valves, chambers, or muscle, including the detection of blood clots in the heart or the presence of fluid around it. Echocardiograms are often performed in response to a patient’s complaints of shortness of breath, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat.


However, cardiologists are not the only medical professionals who rely on echocardiography to assess heart function. Intensivists, specialists in critical care medicine who treat patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), may also need to perform echocardiograms as part of their comprehensive role.


In recognition of this vital overlap, Dr. Stainback supported an alliance between ASE and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.


Dr. Stainback explained, “The American Society of Echocardiography supports all users of cardiovascular ultrasound, and this certainly includes all critical care physicians. During my year as President of the ASE, I have been proud to demonstrate how our teaching lab serves as a model training center for our highly regarded critical care trainees in practice and not just ‘as recommended.’ The Echo Lab welcomes our intensivist trainees as they learn to scan from the masters and participate in the supervised analysis of at least 150 comprehensive echocardiography exams in preparation for their NBE Critical Care Echocardiography certification.”


The value of these efforts is already evident. THI and Baylor College of Medicine Anesthesia Critical Care Medicine fellows Nabil Othman, MD, and Jacqueline Sohn, DO, performed over 150 comprehensive ICU echocardiograms and passed NBE’s Examination of Special Competence in Critical Care Echocardiography (CCEeXAM), all within a 10-month timespan. Jose Diaz-Gomez, MD, FCCM, FASE, Director of Critical Care Echocardiography at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Program Director of the Critical Care Fellowship program, credits the accomplishment to the fellows’ hard work, the professional collaboration between ASE and SCCM leaders, and Dr. Stainback’s leadership, stating, “The ASE president is a transformational leader.”


This certification opportunity is part of the partnership that Dr. Stainback fostered between the echocardiography experts and critical care medicine professionals. With the establishment of the Critical Care Echocardiography Council this July, intensivists will now be able to belong to the ASE. Notably, this is the first new ASE Council in over 14 years. According to Dr. Diaz-Gomez, who is part of the Council’s leadership, “The establishment of the Critical Care Echocardiography Council is an important milestone. It will benefit the careers of many colleagues and, above all, the safety and efficiency of patient care.”


Stephanie Coulter, MD, FACC, FASE, a cardiologist with the Texas Heart Medical Group and Program Director of THI’s Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship at Baylor St. Luke’s, completed a fellowship in advanced echocardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and uses this specialized imaging technique on a daily basis to help her patients. Dr. Coulter said, “Putting this technology into the hands of the critical care community provides real-time, actionable data that has an immediate impact on patient care.”


By Daynene Vykoukal, PhD