Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The diagnostic value of oesophageal echocardiography is most striking in patients in whom precordial studies are of inadequate quality or fail to establish a definitive diagnosis. Oesophageal studies have excellent image quality, can be completed within 10 minutes without complications and, in most instances, enables the clinical question to be answered. In 50 patients referred for suspected thoracic aorta pathology, oesophageal echocardiography correctly excluded or diagnosed the type of aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm or the site of coarctation. Of 35 patients referred with suspected infective endocarditis, oesophageal echocardiography revealed complications in 18 patients, including vegetation, mycotic aneurysm, abscess or chordal rupture. Oesophageal echocardiography is extremely helpful to visualize intracardiac mass lesions. In 27 patients with a history of systemic or pulmonary embolism, the technique confirmed the presence, size and position of a mass lesion in 11 patients. Oesophageal color Doppler flow imaging further expands the diagnostic capabilities, particularly in patients with mitral valve prosthesis. Our experience indicates that oesophageal echocardiography significantly extends the diagnostic potential of echocardiography. Detailed knowledge of cardiothoracic anatomy and its pathologic sequelae is, however, a prerequisite for the efficient and safe application of this method.
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