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Circulation. 1991 Mar;83(3):817-21.

Safety of transesophageal echocardiography. A multicenter survey of 10,419 examinations.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Hannover Medical School, FRG.



During the past few years, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) has been increasingly used in clinical cardiology; data concerning the practicability and safety of the technique, however, are rare.


This report analyzes the experience of 15 European centers performing TEE studies for at least 1 year. At the time of this survey, 10,419 TEE examinations had been attempted or performed in these institutions. These TEE examinations were carried out by 54 physicians, 53.7% of whom had been trained in endoscopic techniques. Within the same time period, 160,431 precordial echocardiographic examinations were performed in the 15 institutions; the ratio between TEE and transthoracic studies averaged 9.03 +/- 6.4% (range of the 15 centers, 1.4-23.6%). Of the 10,419 patients, 9,240 (88.7%) were conscious inpatients or outpatients at the time of the TEE examination; the vast majority of the conscious patients did not receive intravenous sedation before TEE. In 201 cases (1.9%), insertion of the TEE probe was unsuccessfully attempted because of a lack of patient cooperation and/or operator experience (98.5%) or because of anatomical reasons (1.5%). In 90 of 10,218 TEE studies (0.88%) with successful probe insertion, the examination had to be interrupted because of the patient's intolerance of the echoscope (65 cases); because of pulmonary (eight cases), cardiac (eight cases), or bleeding complications (two cases); or for other reasons (seven cases). One of the bleeding complications resulted from a malignant lung tumor with esophageal infiltration and was fatal (mortality rate, 0.0098%).


This multicenter survey documents that TEE studies are associated with an acceptable low risk when used by experienced operators under proper safety conditions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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