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The Septal Slap

May 15, 2018

I like giving credit where credit is due. But often enough, it is simply not possible. As we learn and teach point-of-care ultrasound, we stand on the shoulders of many unidentified people. Long ago, there were the early scientists who researched sound waves. They discovered that part of the sound spectrum that we now use to perform POCUS. At some point, it was discovered that ultrasound waves could help see into the body. Early ultrasound machines were constructed by scientists of different stripes, physicists, biologists, etc. Then, early imaging specialists started to put ultrasound to clinical use in humans. I cannot tell you the names of any of these people. But we are deeply indebted to them.

Before it’s lost in the sands of time, I thought I would point out the origin of the term, “The Septal Slap”. As many readers will know, in creating the learning tools of the EDE Courses, we deconstruct how other specialties use ultrasound and rebuild it for ourselves and our learners, with simplicity of pedagogy in mind. We had been teaching EDE 2 for about a year when we held the course in Sudbury for the second time back in March 2010. To that point, we had been using the term EPSS, or E-point septal separation with learners as one feature that can be used to judge LV systolic function (i.e. contractility). We knew that the term glazed their eyes over, as evidenced by this quote from the book:

E-point what?! Does the abbreviation EPSS help? OK, let’s back up to explain this “nose-in-the-air” echo term.”

Immediately after that course in Sudbury, we had a brainstorming session and came up with the term, “The Septal Slap”. Although he cannot recall it, I think my colleague in Sudbury, Dr Lee Toner, came up with slap and it went from there. Although the term technically falls under the copyright of the book and the course material, we owe Lee a big thanks for the light bulb that went over his head that day!

If you search the Internet for “septal slap”, you will notice that it is starting to infiltrate into various blog discussions, which is a good thing. It is certainly WAY easier to understand than EPSS! It has even snuck its way into the material of another course. What’s that saying about the “sincerest form of flattery”? 🙂

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