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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Transesophageal echocardiography in the emergency surgical management of patients with aortic dissection

P Simon, A N Owen, M Havel, R Moidl, M Hiesmayr, E Wolner, W Mohl
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 1992, 103 (6): 1113-7; discussion 1117-8
1597975
The diagnostic accuracy and benefit of transesophageal echocardiography were investigated in 32 patients with suspected aortic dissection. Results of transesophageal echocardiography were compared with surgical assessment. The Stanford classification was used for differentiation of dissection type. Examination time was 5 to 15 minutes. Twenty-eight patients were correctly identified to have aortic dissection; four patients had nondissecting aneurysms of the ascending aorta. Both sensitivity and specificity for detection of aortic dissection were 100%. Type of dissection was misdiagnosed in one patient. Classification of dissection type was correct in 96%. The primary entry site was correctly identified in 25 patients (89%). Aortic regurgitation was found in 57% of patients. Pericardial effusion was detected in 21%, with tamponade in one patient. Myocardial infarction was suggested by transesophageal echocardiography in 7%, and 14% had significantly reduced left ventricular function. Eight patients underwent operation based on transesophageal echocardiography alone. Intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography, performed in 20 patients, verified retrograde flow in the true lumen after femoral cannulation. Transesophageal echocardiography documented postrepair persistence of the intimal flap in aortic segments that were not operated on in all patients. Secondary tears and flow in the false lumen were detected in 35% of patients. We conclude that transesophageal echocardiography allows expedient and accurate diagnosis and classification of aortic dissection, and we recommend it as the primary bedside diagnostic modality. It can especially identify patients requiring surgical intervention without further delay caused by other diagnostic procedures.

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